How to choose the right recovery for your workout
How to choose the right recovery for your workout
You know rest is as important as the exercise itself, but did you know there’s more to recovery than just foam rolling? This is how to do it the right way.
We all know how to train hard, but when it comes to rest and recovery, many of us drop the ball.
According to Shaun Button, owner and founder of new Sydney inner-city sports recovery centre KOA Recovery, allowing your body to rest from the stress it endures during a workout is key to keeping fit.
“We're trying to break the stigma and educate people that you don't need to be an athlete to recover and that being proactive in your wellbeing is critical to preventing burn out,” says Button.
As well as a cryotherapy chamber and NormaTec compression boots, the Redfern recovery centre is home to a float tank, which Shaun says is popular with new mums looking to capitalise on some shut-eye (it's been reported that one hour in a float tank is equivalent to eight hours of sleep).
Here, sports chiropractor and founder of 4D Health and Performance, Damien Benson, sheds light on the largely misunderstood nature of post-workout recovery.
What is recovery?
Recovery is essentially taking the body from a stressed state back to a normal state. It allows the body to adapt to stress. If you keep stressing something every single day and you don't give it time to adapt to that stress, it will break. We look at three factors with that; state of mind, health and strength. When we train, our hormone levels fluctuate and our glucose levels are depleted. We're also giving them time to go back to where they were.
Who should be doing it?
Everyone should be doing recovery, not just elite-level athletes. Elite-level athletes have to be really consistent with it, so they need to be doing it every single day. Everyday athletes, such as those training to run a marathon, tend to break down quicker. They want to run a marathon, but they tend to get stress fractures and injuries, because they're not doing the recovery. They all know how to do the training, but they don't realise the importance of rest, it's just as important. You need to do some sort of recovery, or you're going to break down.
What can happen to your body if you don't recover?
If we don't recover we can get musculoskeletal injuries, such as ligament tears, tendon tears and stress fractures. With exercise we can get lactic acid [in our muscles] and a build up of lactic acid can cause our muscles not to work properly and that can lead to injury. We need to constantly be flushing the muscles and looking after our systems to settle them down as much as possible.
How often do we need to be doing recovery?
If you're working out five times a week, you'd have to do some sort of recovery at least three times a week. Whether it be sleep, nutrition, or going to a place like KOA Recovery and doing cryotherapy or a float tank, it doesn't matter so much which one we do, as long as we're doing something.
What are some of the most effective types of recovery?
Best for… Crossfit and weight training
Foam rolling Stretching was popular around 10 to 15 years ago, but it's now been proven that's it's not the most effective thing to do. Foam rolling can be done with anything from a piece of foam to PVC pipes or even a cylindrical piece of rubber. You use it like a rolling pin to roll the muscle out and push all of the accumulated waste and lactic acid out of the muscle. It helps compress the muscle to lengthen it. If you're doing weights or hypertrophy, which means you're trying to get bigger, I would recommend foam rolling.
Best for… HIIT and running
Cryotherapy Cryotherapy can be anything from water submersion in an ice bath all the way up to cryotherapy chambers. Using cold air, they can take you all the way down to -140 degrees Celsius. When we we're exercising, we get all this stress and inflammation on our muscles, joints and tendons. Cryotherapy reduces the ability of that to occur. From a scientific point of view, the literature at the moment is hit and miss on cryotherapy. Some studies say it's great, some are saying it's not. But from my experience with treating elite-level athletes, they do get that recovery benefit from it.
Best for… CrossFit and yoga
Float tanks Also known as a salt bath, by lying in a bath filled with magnesium or some sort of salts solution, we're trying to relax the muscles as much as we can. You do cryotherapy post exercise and salts bath is probably more appropriate for two or three days later, when you're trying to relax the muscles.
Best for… swimming, cycling, boxing, running, CrossFit, football, soccer and netball
Electro Muscle Stimulation This recovery treatment involves the use of a machine to stimulate the muscles and there's evidence showing that that can sometimes reduce lactic acid.
Best for… anything using the legs and hips; marathon running, triathlon, cycling, swimming, gymnastics, cricket, rugby and football
Compression The use of something called a NormaTec boot, which tries to compress all the muscles and flush all the lactic acid out.
Best for… everything
Sleep Sleep is the new big thing. There's lots of studies coming out now that say having eight hours sleep a night is just as important as doing foam rolling or any other modality you want to do. Between 8 and 10 hours of sleep a night is the best recovery process, believe it or not.
A note on nutrition
Nutrition also plays an important part in recovery, whether that be proteins or amino acids. For example, if we're doing HIIT training, we're depleting our body of carbohydrate stores and glucose, so you need to get that sugar back. Anything from fruit to anything that's sweet, you need to restore those carbohydrates.
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