The importance of recovery.

Posted on April 8, 2011. Filed under: Misc | Tags: , , , |

It is three days in to my rest period for my exercise experiment.  And I am still feeling a bit fried.


Each day is a bit better, but still a bit singed around the neurons.


For the sake of my experiment I  limited my access to supplements.  The only products I have taken are protein powder, BCAA, and the occasional dose of caffeine.  Never more than 160mg.


Training for strength is quite taxing on the system.  But I wanted to establish a baseline for myself, and how the training affected me.


I’ll be sure to grab some extra rest this weekend.


Recovery is something many tend to overlook when exercising.  Many feel that unless one is training at a high intensity, such as what happens with a sport, that overtraining does not happen.


The oversight here is that life in itself can be stressful, and this stress can affect your bodies recovery and recuperative abilities.  Suggested time for sleep is 7-9 hours, and majority of people do not get that.  And even then the quality of sleep is not what it should be.

  • Pitch black room, no light
  • room 68 degrees
  • wake up under own power, no alarm clock


Outside of that,  there are a variety of methods of recovery one should consider:


Epsom Salt Baths

Epsom salts are also known as magnesium sulphate.   Bathing for 10 to 20 minutes in a warm/hot bath to which 200-400 grams of Epsom salt is added  is a very simple and effective way to relax your muscles and decrease inflammation.

Sitting in a warm/hot bath increase perspiration, helping to get rid of toxins and impurities.   It also opens up the pores allowing for absorption of the Magnesium sulphate.  Magnesium sulphate also stimulates vasodilatation, facilitating blood flow to the muscles and helping reduce inflammation. As a result, these baths can greatly increase the rate of recovery after a hard training session, and reduce muscle and joint pains associated with an excessive inflammatory response.

Use two to three times per week for 10 to 20 minutes after particularly gruelling workouts.



Ice Massage

Admittedly this is an Alaskan thing, but it really does work.  Set up a towel underneath and put ice in the middle of your muscle. Start to gently massage the muscle in a circular motion. Gradually increase the size of the circles. Perform this action for five to ten minutes. This strategy is very effective at decreasing pain and excessive inflammation and can thus help prevent overuse injuries.



Contrast Baths and Showers

This technique has been around for ever.  Roots back to athletes who sit in a sauna till they couldn’t take it, and then go jump in an icy lake or river.  Alternate between 30 seconds of cold water and two minutes of hot water. Perform this cycle three or four times. This technique is very effective at increasing peripheral blood flow, thus facilitating recovery. Don’t use this method if you’re suffering from an overuse injury or excessive inflammation.  This causes a bit of a pump in the area, which will be painful.


Note that the warmth of the hot water segment will vary in its effect. You should be careful to select the proper temperature for your objective. For example, very hot water (104-113 Fahrenheit or 40-45 degrees Celsius) lowers muscle tension. Warm water (95-99 Fahrenheit or 35-38 degrees Celsius) will mostly have a general relaxing effect.




I am a big believer in massage when done correctly.  Read that first sentence five times.   This is the basic problem with massage.   Because despite what many may believe.  Not every body is a good masseuse.  Even those who are certified massage therapist are not all good masseuse.  So far in my own personal experience I have only had one masseuse who I would trust 100%, regardless of what kind of condition I was in.  Unfortunately he moved away.


Done properly massage can reduce inflammation (especially deep tissue massage).  But I would not settle for someone who was merely certified on massage.  I would look for someone certified in ART.  In fact, Active Release Technique (ART), a form of deep tissue massage, is probably the most effective non-pharmaceutical treatment for inflammation injuries such as tendonitis.  Massage in general, does have a relaxing effect on the body.  But going for general relaxation is not enough reason for me.  So I do SMR.



Self-myofascial release (SMR)

SMR works off of the principle of  autogenic inhibition.


When tension increases to the point of high risk of injury (i.e. tendon rupture), the GTO (Golgi Tendon Organ) sends an inhibitory signal to relax the muscle in question. This reflex relaxation is autogenic inhibition. The GTO isn’t only useful in protecting us from injuries, but it also plays a role in making proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching techniques highly effective.


The muscle contraction that precedes the passive stretch stimulates the GTO, which in turn causes relaxation that facilitates this passive stretch and allows for greater range of motion. With foam rolling, you can simulate this muscle tension, thus causing the GTO to relax the muscle. Essentially, you get many of the benefits of stretching and then some.


I highly recommend any and everyone to do foam rolling and gain from this benefit.



Best Health,

Coach W


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