So you know by now that I’m pretty passionate about food. You should also know that I am pretty passionate about exercise. These are two important parts of the health and wellness pyramid if you will, the third being recovery, and I’m pretty passionate about that as well. There are 4 different ways to ensure your recovery is as kick ass as your nutrition and training.
All athletes should be focusing on what their recovery process looks like, as often times this is more important than your actual training, because if done correctly it keeps you healthy and able to train day after day.
I know what you are thinking…I’m not an athlete. I run a few times a week, I take a yoga class or I do Crossfit a 3 times a week. I’m not even lifting heavy…Yeah, I’m definitely not an athlete. Give yourself some credit! If your ass is up moving and you are sweating you are an athlete, and you should be helping your body recovery like you are one.
So here are my 4 things to consider when thinking about a recovery plan for yourself:
1) What are you doing for yourself?
2) Who are you seeing to help assist in the process?
3) What kinds of supplements are you taking?
4) What kinds of foods are you eating?
First thing – what are you doing for yourself? Do you stay after class, come early, attend mobility classes, stretch at home, etc. You can’t expect your body to perform every day if you don’t take care of it afterwards. You need to take the time, even if it’s a few minutes a day to mobilize and keep your range of motion up. Check out http://www.themovementfix.com for some great ideas and maybe invest in a foam roller to keep next to your couch!
Second – who are going to see to help assist in the process. By this I mean mainly a chiropractor and a massage therapist. As an athlete myself, these two people have become a huge part of my weekly/monthly recovery process. Some people are little nervous to go see a chiropractor or to get a massage, but you shouldn’t be, if you are going to the right people.
As far as a chiro goes, look for someone who is an athlete themselves. They should have continued education well beyond the traditional chiropractic field. Techniques like ART or Graston are going to be important parts of the process. Be sure to find someone that listens to your needs and understands what you put your body through when exercising. Check out http://www.activerelease.com
for more information about ART, what it is and why you should have it done to you!
As far as massage goes, there are a bunch of different techniques out there. Be sure to find someone that make you feel comfortable and knows about the kind of exercise you are doing and the strains you are putting on your body. I see my massage therapist at least once or twice per month. She knows whats bothering me before I tell her and she knows exactly where to apply pressure and where to ease up (although this week she worked on my psoas and made me want to throw up, haha). Find someone you can go to consistently and the magic will happen.
Third part of all this – what kind of supplements are you taking? Beyond protein powders and post recovery shakes it is important to be taking things like Magnesium, Omega 3’s, Vitamin D and HMB.
Magnesium is huge when it comes to work capacity. It is essential for normal muscle function and helps convert carbs into energy so our muscles can continue to do what we ask of them. Benefits of adding Magnesium into your daily recovery routine are increased muscle function, electrolyte balance and reduction in fatigue. Sounds pretty good…sign me up 🙂
Omega 3’s, or long chain fatty acids, are an important part of any diet. We want to add these into our recovery protocol because they help with injury prevention, accelerated recovery and increased oxygen delivery to our muscles. They also help reduce inflammation, maintain cardiovascular health and maintain brain function (think we could all benefit from this part! A pill that makes you smarter…yay…haha).
Vitamin D is really important especially if you live here in Rochester with meeee. We need Vitamin D to help maintain our bone health and muscle function. Take the D (ok dirty minds…easy) daily to help keep those bones strong, immune system healthy and keep our moods up.
Check out http://www.purepharma.com
for clean varieties of these important supplements, and their really cool ALL3 pack which has all these guys in one package!
HMB is another great option for a recovery aid/supplement. HMB is needed to protect, build and repair muscle. HMB is naturally made in your body, but often times needs to be supplemented with a pill or HMB rich food to benefit your body. Increasing your HMB intake will help reduce the damage we do to our muslces daily and help them repair themselves quicker. Check out http://www.blonyx.com
for a super clean, high quality HMB or for some more information about how this could benefit you.
The last part of the recovery checklist is what kinds of foods are you eating to support/aid your recovery process? Are they anti-inflammatory? Are they delivering the necessary vitamins and minerals needed for muscle recovery and sustained work? Here we want to avoid any highly processed foods, saturated fat, alcohol and sugar as these things will spike inflammation in the body.
Think vegetables dark in color such as beets, dark leafy greens like kale or spinach, fatty fish (think good fats like our Omegas), healthy nuts like almonds, fruits like berries, dark cherries and pineapple, spices like tumeric, ginger and cinnamon, as well as garlic, onions and sweet potatoes. We also want good fat from avocados, olive oil, coconut and grass fed beef.
Focusing on eating clean and avoiding inflammatory foods will help your body absorb the imporant nutrients and increase the rate it repairs your muscles.
I know this is a lot of information, but even adding one thing into your recovery routine will make you feel better!!