Recovery 101 : Longevity + Performance Boost
A misunderstood and underused concept when it comes to health and performance, is recovery.
Proper recovery is key in the repair and restoration of our body. In fact, most of the #gainz of training happens during this time, where the brain has the ability to digest new pathways and the body has the ability to heal and grow.
Without adequate amounts of recovery it can lead into a cycle of recurring injuries and chronic pain which defeats our #1 goal of sustaining long term health and performance.
Recovery in the broad sense of the word means to allow the body and mind to rest from regular activities. But there is much more to it than that.
To better explain this further, I have split recovery up into two branches : primary and secondary.
Primary Recovery = Systemic Balance
This branch is the gold standard of recovery and often the most neglected. Here the focus is to replenish the essentials needs of the body while regulating its systems such as the endocrine system, nervous system, & digestive system via Sleep, Nutrition, Hydration, and Stress Management
1. Quality and Restful Sleep:
Although there are people who say 8 hours is the magic number, I keep it simple. If the sleep you're getting is restful and you feel good then its enough. If not, you need to adjust. Solely addressing sleep can be the key to systemic recovery all on its own.
2. Nourishing and Purposeful Nutrition:
Choose the higher quality meals vs the quick and easy. You want to be sure to eat enough to fuel your activities, choose balanced meals, and give enough time for proper digestion.
3. Frequent and Meaningful Hydration:
No need to carry a water truck with you. A simple water jug throughout the day can do the trick. Also, eating foods with high water content such as fruits and vegetables are great ways to fill the need.
4. Calm and Relaxed Mind:
Focus on what you can control and let everything else go. It’s easier said than done but a meditative practice or simple breath work throughout your day can have huge rewards in regulating the mind and body.
Secondary Recovery = Neuromuscular Balance
This branch of recovery is the most known. Here the focus is to reduce joint stiffness, reduce tissue restrictions, and improve mobility.
Active vs Passive Recovery
Active recovery is the use of lower intensity exercise to help the body recover and repair from performance and life in general.
Examples of Active Recovery:
- Walking - Swimming - Biking - Jogging - Mobility work : Myofascial Release, Yoga, Qigong /Tai Chi , Mobility Drills
Passive recovery involves the help of either a practitioner or device to administer manipulation of the body to aid in recovery and repair.
Examples of Passive Recovery:
- Bodywork - Recovery Boots - Massage Guns
In a nutshell..
Active : you do the work
Passive : practitioner or device does the work
Which one do I prefer athletes do?
Active recovery is easily accessible and can be done the most frequently. Also within active recovery you have the opportunity to learn skills and attributes you can carry over into training.
~ Working on lifting techniques with lighter weight
~ Improving hip mobility for better movement
~ Improving body awareness and stress reduction with Qigong
Although bodywork is a passive recovery method there are big advantages. Such as more specific and detailed work through the help of a skilled practitioner who can expedite recovery and address limitations or injuries.
At the end of the day I always say do both.
If you do a little bit of active recovery each day it prevents the accumulation of bigger problems. And having a skilled practitioner within your circle can help you mitigate issues as they arise vs waiting for them to escalate.
When to add recovery into your training and routine? :
During Training = between sets
Post Training = short and sweet ( i.e cool down routine)
Between training days = for more detailed and longer forms (i.e mobility work, bodywork )
Benefits of recovery
Replenishing body of essential nutrients
Circulation of blood and fluids
Decompression of joints and tissues
Reduction of Stress and Sympathetic tone
Healing and Repair
Training and recovery go hand in hand. Take the time to structure accordingly and stay consistent with your routine.