Techniques to Aid in Muscle Recovery
As part of the recovery series, I wanted to discuss different techniques to aid in the process of recovery for athletes. In this post I am going to briefly discuss things to target in active recovery work, sports massage and physical therapy and finally some equipment that can be utilized to supplement recovery.
Active Recovery for Athletes: Programming an Active Recovery Workout
Active recovery workouts can be utilized to allow your body to recover from stressors without taking a whole day of training off. In addition, it also allows you to take an interdisciplinary approach that addresses continued performance gains, as well as allowing the creation of a maintainable routine.
By focusing on three specific areas of our lives, we can combat the four main stressors that will occur with a workout regimen, and this can be applied to any lifestyle. The stressors we need to address without an active recovery routine are: psychological, metabolic, neurological, and physical.
Recovery for Athletes: Lifestyle & Stretching
For most, they don’t realize active recovery and our lifestyle is really one and the same. The best recovery is in the preparation. Prepare to take care of yourself, get enough sleep, eat right, take the time for self-care. It seems small but can make a big difference.
Getting enough sleep is huge for your recovery. Your sleep, like anything else, is a habit that you develop over time. So you can choose to have good sleep habits or bad sleep habits. There are a ton of ways you can try to improve your sleep. For example, you can make sure the temperature in the room isn’t too cold. You can get blackout curtains. You can wear blue light glasses to help your eyes if you spend a lot of time around computers or screens. All of these things can affect your sleep.
Sports Massage and Physical Therapy for Recovery
Incorporating massage into the recovery for athletes can make all the difference in pain relief for an athlete, and keep them from being put on unnecessary pain medication. Anything we do on a regular basis is a repetitive motion for our bodies. This repetitive motion causes us to become unbalanced and causes discomfort because our bodies are almost stuck in the positions they are used to being in the most.
Unfortunately, massage therapy and physical therapy are incredibly under-utilized in the medical community. But if you are able to find a passionate provider who focuses on healing their patients, just some simple stretches and exercises can resolve your pain. Finding a provider who is willing to get a baseline assessment and not just go by what a patient’s referral says, and is willing to teach. If your provider can give you exercises to take home with you and allow you to take care of yourself and provide you with that knowledge, that is the best-case scenario. Their goal should be to get you feeling better and back to your normal life as quickly and safely as possible.
Role of Equipment in Recovery for Athletes
In addition to creating a lifestyle that promotes recovery, and sports massage to help your body function efficiently, I want to discuss incorporating equipment into your recovery. Equipment really should not be used first and foremost when performing active recovery regimens. Equipment should really be used as a supplement for the different modalities I have mentioned above. I am going to briefly touch on a couple of different types of equipment that I would recommend for recovery after strenuous workouts.
The first piece of equipment I want to touch on is compression boots. The brand that I use with my clients is Norma Tech, but there are other brands out there. The purpose fo these compression boots is to aid in blood circulation, therefore speeding up your recovery. They also help relieve pain sensitivity by applying consistent pressure to your muscles. This will help lessen the “pain” of being sore simply by changing the way your body chemically responds to pressure.
Next, I want to discuss power dots, or more simply put electronic stimulation. This is something I also use in my practice for my clients. When you’re using it to stimulate the muscles it can actually help build strength and density of the muscles. They can also speed up recovery by increasing blood flow to the muscle due to the muscle contractions.
The Hypervolt and Theragun
These high vibration systems help with recovery by targeting the fascia. This connective tissue that you will find adhering muscle to bone. These products add high intensity and vibration to areas with fascia to provide faster recovery. Because we can get fascia restrictions from head to foot, side to side and diagonally across the body. This can also aid in the moving of fluid and blood ad the other 2 products we discussed did.
Foam Rolls, Self Massage Sticks, Lacrosse Balls. Again, these things help your body recover by resetting your pain threshold by replacing the “pain” of sore muscle with pressure. And these products really help you activate your muscles more. Again, these products aid in recovery by moving blood and lymphatic fluid out of the muscles. Maintaining good circulation is what allows you to recover quickly.
This is it in recovery, for now, I’d love to address any questions you have in the comments, so please leave any questions you have in the comments. I look forward to speaking with you all. Remember just a few key points, it is important to manage your lifestyle around your workout routine to provide the body with what it needs. You also have quite a few options when it comes to hands-on massage or equipment to help your muscles recover and get over being sore faster.