May 11, 2021
What can you do to speed your recovery from training and racing? Besides high-quality sleep and nutrition, here are four recovery modalities you should try.
If you’ve ever done any significant training, you’ll know the effect it has on your body and how fatigue sets in as you train consistently.
Without training stress, you can’t get better, but without sufficient recovery from training, you’ll break down, and all that work will go to waste.
Sleep and nutrition are the fundamental recovery practices that all athletes need to treat as seriously as their training. Master these, and you’ll increase your tolerance for training and enhance your performance.
Neglect them, and it doesn’t matter what else you do to recover. You’ll never reach your potential.
I highlight the importance of sleep and nutrition because I see many athletes getting caught up in the toys of recovery (some of which I will discuss shortly) before mastering the basics.
If you’re only sleeping 5-hours a night and eating junk food, other recovery modalities may help a little, but they’re comparatively superficial and have little impact on the core of your fatigue and recovery.
You’re treating the symptoms, not the cause.
Now, assuming you are an athlete who takes their sleep and nutrition seriously, here are some additional recovery modalities that I have used personally and with our athletes to accelerate recovery.
Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release and is the most low-tech (and cheapest) modality on this list. I believe foam rolling started in the ’80s as a way for practitioners to treat conditions that resulted from tight or inflamed fascia.
You can think of fascia as layers and layers of cling wrap encompassing all of the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints in your body. Fascia can become tight or inflamed thanks to training stress, along with lifestyle factors like poor posture, dehydration, injury, stress, and lack of movement.
Because of its simplicity, a foam roller was something I used most days during my pro career to reduce soreness and eliminate muscle knots while improving my flexibility and range of motion.
I recommend that all athletes own a foam roller and use it regularly.
Like foam rolling, massage guns are a form of self-myofascial release. Unlike foam rolling, they use percussive therapy to help loosen fascia and your muscles. They also help move lactic acid out of your body faster.
Like the Hydragun that I use, most massage guns come with multiple heads and several speed settings. These variations allow you to change the intensity of your massage and target specific areas of your body.
I have been using my Hydragun for around a year. It’s been a game-changer for my recovery and overall stress management.
Compression comes in two primary forms. 1. static compression and 2. intermittent pneumatic compression (IPC).
Static compression is the simplest and most cost-effective form of compression. It’s the type of compression most people think of when the topic comes up.
Manufacturers have created all sorts of compression clothing for specific situations, reasons and people too. I wear compression socks after all long or intense sessions and during travel.
IPC is a more recent and advanced form of compression. Companies like Normatec and Recovery Systems have popularised IPC among athletes with their recovery boots. Recovery boots squeeze and release the muscles, which helps with the removal of waste products may reduce injury risk and the phenomenon of delayed onset muscle soreness.
I have not used IPC personally, but several of my athletes swear by it.
Electrostimulation, or electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), as it is commonly known, sends an electric current to your muscle or the peripheral nerve to achieve an involuntary muscle contraction.
Athletes can use EMS to increase the recruitment of muscle fibres to increase muscle strength or as a form of massage to loosen muscles and aid recovery.
I have a Compex, which I used daily, especially on my back and lats after big swim sets. I found it helped significantly, especially when I was doing a double swim day. New players in EMS, like PowerDot, have bought EMS to the smartphone for a very competitive price.