We know that recovery is one of the most important aspects of training. If we can give our bodies the right tools to help us recover more effectively and efficiently then we’ll be able to train again sooner. Nutrition plays a major role in giving us the right tools to build a stronger healthier body. To take our recovery to the next level and really ensure that we’re taking care of our bodies, there are other active recovery methods we can use. After your next training session I highly encourage you to add one of these recovery methods to your routine and test it out for yourself:
Rock n’ Rollin
Foam rolling is a technique to loosen up tight muscles after exercise. You’re essentially using your own body weight to stretch out your muscles and tendons. Research shows that foam rolling helps to reduce muscle soreness and increase range of motion.1 Most people who have tried foam rolling LOVE IT! If you want to try it out for the first time, ask your gym if they have one for you to experiment with before you commit to buying a foam roller for yourself.
Stretching should be incorporated as part of your training. Stretching is a great way to increase flexibility, range of motion and relieve tension due to stiff muscles. Adding in a variety of stretches to your post-workout routine is the best way to target those muscles that you’ve used throughout periods of physical activity. Hamstrings tend to take on a lot of tension during endurance exercise, which may result in low back pain since these powerful muscles tend to carry the majority of your weight. Ankles and calves shouldn’t be forgotten either. Last but not least, don’t forget about your core, which can hold a lot of tension when you run, and if not stretched out, could lead to low back pain. Try a seated half twist pose to help loosen up your core.
Ice Ice Baby
Ice baths....even the thought of these give me chills. An ice bath requires you to submerge your body, or part of your body, in icy water 3 to 7 minutes. The theory behind ice baths is that they help your body recover after intense periods of physical activity by helping to reduce lactic acid build-up.2 Although more research is needed for definitive results, some athletes swear by ice baths after an especially difficult workout—preferably in the summer months!
Compression socks and arm bands are not just for style, they actually serve a purpose during and after a hard workout. Designed to be extremely tight to compress the leg or arm, compression gear may help rid your body of lactic acid post-exercise.3 You can find compression socks and arm bands in any athletic store.
Focusing on active recovery will provide your body with the tools to heal and repair, allowing you to get out there and do it all again.
What modes of active recovery do you swear by?
- Macdonald GZ, Button DC, Drinkwater EJ, Behm DG. (2014). Foam rolling as a recovery tool after an intense bout of physical activity. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise.46(1):131-42.
- White GE, Wells GD. (2013). Cold-water immersion and other forms of cryotherapy: physiological changes potentially affecting recovery from high-intensity exercise. Extreme Physiology & Medicine;2(1):26. Accessed on 5/8/14 from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3766664/
- Rider BC, Coughlin A, Hew-Butler T, Goslin B. (2013). EFFECT OF COMPRESSION STOCKINGS ON PHYSIOLOGICAL RESPONSES AND RUNNING PERFORMANCE IN DIVISION III COLLEGIATE CROSS COUNTRY RUNNERS DURING A MAXIMAL TREADMILL TEST. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.