No Excuses. 6 Simple Recovery Techniques for Athletes.
The majority would agree that athletes are incredibly disciplined. Most of us have gotten in a good sweat before the rest of the population has even cracked open their eyes. But for some reason all that discipline and focus towards training doesn’t always apply to recovery. The average triathlete thinks nothing of spending 8-12 hours a week working out, but ask them to do 15 minutes of foam rolling and they whine like a teenager being asked to give up their phone. Understanding the importance of recovery and giving it as much merit as the training, is vital to getting faster and stronger at your sport. So next time you are throwing a recovery tantrum remember these simple techniques and remind yourself that your muscles will be able to strengthen and repair themselves making you faster and less prone to injury. Definitely worth the 5-10 minutes!
1. Get your shake on - Protein post workout
Getting in some high quality protein after a workout is probably the easiest technique in the book for muscle recovery. The hour post workout, also known as the ‘anabolic window’ is the period when your body is most efficient at protein synthesis. Getting in some protein, either from a protein shake or some other easily digestible food source such as chia seeds, almonds or eggs, will help to rebuild your muscles and restore your glycogen levels so that you can recover faster. Try to avoid sugary protein bars and excessively processed snacks, and keep it simple with ingredients you can pronounce. Need some inspiration? Check out our easy chia blueberry protein pudding recipe here.
2. Less is sometimes more
Becoming a stronger and faster athlete takes serious dedication and the ability to push beyond your limits a little more each time. But, knowing when to take a step back and give yourself a well-deserved rest day is just as important as all that hard work. Rest is a vital part of the strengthening process, it’s during this time that the muscles adapt to the stress of working out and the muscle tissue can repair itself to become stronger. Without rest muscles continue to breakdown and symptoms of over-training, such as increased risk of injury, and decreased performance can occur.1 So put your feet up once a week and take a well-deserved chill day. You earned it; enjoy!
3. Walk it out
One of the worst things you can do for your muscles is go straight from running to sitting. Try to end your run half a block away from your car or house and walk the rest of the way. This cool down will help to flush out the lactic acid and prevent blood from pooling in your legs. Adding this to your routine doesn’t take much but it will help minimize you how stiff and sore you feel the next day.
4. Voodoo Floss
Despite the really odd name, Voodoo Flossing (also known as compression tacking) is a simple tool that is very effective at flushing areas of the body with fresh blood to help aid recovery. A thick latex tape is wrapped around an area of the body just above where you are feeling pain. For example, if you are experiencing pain in your ankle, you would wrap the tape firmly around your calf and perform a few very slow calf raises and side-steps to get blood flowing to the area. After 1- 2 minutes, remove the tape and highly oxygenated blood will rush to the ankle, flushing the area with fresh blood to help boost the healing process 2. It is a simple way to help speed up recovery on any of those little aches and pains that come with the territory. Plus, it can be done while watching TV. Yay for multi-tasking!
5. Torture Devices
Foam roll, foam roll, foam roll!!! Need I say more? We all know how invaluable this simple tool is for myofascial release and breaking up knots. Yet every athlete I know says the words "I should foam roll more" on a daily basis. Guilty as charged. Commit to just 5 minutes a day of foam roller exercises and you are less likely to end up limping your way through the last few miles of a run with IT bands that feel like they are going to snap...no fun, trust me.
6. Technique and Gear
Faster recovery starts with doing less damage during your workout. If your technique is off, or you aren't wearing the right running shoes you are going to feel more pain after working out and take longer to recover. One of the most common mistakes is buying shoes that are too small. Your running shoes should be at least a half-size bigger than your regular shoes and should feel like heaven on your feet. So don't settle for anything less. As far as running form goes...that is a bit more complicated. Check out Coach Collin's top tips on improving your running form here. Or shop for the perfect pair of 361 running shoes for men or for women and enjoy a softer, faster, longer lasting shoe.