Optimizing post event athletic recovery, it is really worth the Time, Effort and Energy” You haven’t heard it all before bla bla bla…. It is not all just opinion anyway.
First things first, understand that your heart pumping workouts, limit finding races and personal best efforts are not where the performance gains are made. Remove this upside down concept from your mind right now!
From that hard work, it is potential, that is made. After this hard work is done a state of readiness exists to grow. The hard work is Catabolic, the breaking down of what you have! Improvements and progress are made through growth from this Catabolic state.
Recovery! Recovery is Anabolic or a process of synthesis, growth and repair. Get this wrong and all those heart pumping workouts, limit finding races and personal best efforts are not used to their maximal potential… Why work that hard and not get the most from it? Are you insane?
From a simplified holistic perspective your Working Out is MALE, heat, out, fire, Yang! Your Recovery is FEMALE, cool, in, water, Yin! Recover like a mother! Feeding correctly, Resting correctly, Loving correctly, Attentive and Necessary. Balance these two halves and you have a collective wholeness. Known as Progress!
Cook, Kilduff and Crowther detail in their work areas that need attention for the optimal recovery of an Athlete. See the “Pyramid for recovery tools” below the priority is NOURISHMENT. Carbohydrate, Protein, Water and Salt intake all being the absolute first port of call and as soon as possible. Some experts such as Paul Chek say eating while still sweating is an ideal goal to have, your body is most receptive (Female) immediately after exercise so it can put all the nutrients right to work. Healing and producing growth, progress! It is here that your Gains are literally grown… Aim for sub 60 minutes for your food intake post exertion or asap!
How many people do you know who use food as nothing but a fuel? After a workout do they say, i have earned that treat? Or i have burned enough Calories to have this sweet treat. After all that hard work, time and effort, the perceived goal is Progress right? If Progress is sought, it just is not made from consuming such empty non foods at such a crucial pivotal moment of physiological need, repair and recovery!
A Calorie is no measurement of Nutrition nor Nourishment, instead it is a measure of potential heat, the amount of energy required to raise one gram of water one degree, no mention of Nutritional values. Dr Coda Martin details refined sugar as a poison by definition, sugar is depleted of life forces, vitamins and minerals. “What is left consists of pure, refined carbohydrates. The body cannot utilize this refined starch and carbohydrate unless the depleted proteins, vitamins and minerals are present”. So this mindset of food as fuel post workout treats is potentially holding back those who train so very hard yet enjoy the naughty things afterwards! A topsey turvey perspective for Progress and possibly a recipe for injury given what you consume becomes you!
Consuming high quality organic foods, the best quality water and salts you can afford to get your tired hands, feet and body on is the best option! Look to include anti inflammatory herbs, spices as well as more adventurous foods that you may have previously avoided eating. Raw fresh ideally seasonal fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries and leaves. The average person eats no more than 12 different foods their entire life, so step out of that comfort zone and cook that adventurous meal!
These quality real life foods provide the best quality nutrition and nourishment for growth repair and most importantly, Progress. The technical line is that post exercise carbohydrate consumption helps attenuate Lymphcytosis, combned with protein under 60 minutes post exercise facilitates protein accretion. Nutrition is a very personal subject but there are general guidelines and these will vary from sport to sport. For endurance sports CHO 7-10g / kg / body mass and PRO 1.2- 1.8g / kg body mass. Strength athletes CHO 10-12g / kg / body mass and PRO 1.6 – 2.0g / kg / body mass. Its worthy to note that while guidelines exist the accurate measurement and individual requirement is debatable and beyond the scope of this post.
Water! Water is used in every single cellular process so be sure to Hydrate by drinking what you need. Your body weight in KG’s x 0.33 will see your requirement in litres according to Dr Briffa. Adding a pinch of organic sea salt to your water is a good practice to get into the habit of doing. Hydration is vital to health and performance so this factor is non negotiable!
The nutrition and hydration is in reality a Treat! A positive addition to all your efforts and can make or break performance!
From a Holistic health prospective Nutrition, Hydration and Sleep are foundation principles to abide by for recovery but there is more you can do!
So now you have the Nourishing nutrients on board, focus turns to the delivery systems and the sub systems that all need to absorb that goodness and recover. Understand that your body is an Organism made of multiple subsystems reliant upon eachother. Not just muscles and bones! Neurological, Endocrine, Immune, Hormonal, Visceral systems just some that need to repair recover and grow.
Using compression clothing can help reduce inflammation which in turn improves the healing process. A placebo effect may exist with this also but that is no negative if it assists returning to a rested state its positive! Massage, heat and cold therapies can both be employed too. Using a steam/sauna and plunge pool if your health club has them or hot and cold showers if not. These assist the vascular system in clearance of waste and delivery of nourishment.
Psychological techniques are well worth getting to grips with in your quest for optimal recovery! Meditation, Imagery, Breathing techniques all can be used effectively to bring about a rested state!
Music, sound is vibrational energy and is known to heal, ever listened to a song and felt different afterward? Listened to a singer and felt a shiver down your spine. Music is said to move your soul. It can be used for optimal recovery. Its used to reach optimal arousal, motive and energize. Conversely it can be used to calm, relax and restore. So tune into a type that relaxes you! Perhaps while you eat that delicious organic food in your compression pants after your hot stone massage and heat and cold plunge pool session!
Light exercise is the penultimate point to pursue here. Recovery workouts are a way to keep the body in motion at a low intensity and so are anabolic in nature not catabolic. I refer to this as working in! So with this in mind choose exercise that stresses the body the least, Yoga, Walking, Swimming or light cycling. The accumulation of more energy than you expend to the aim of the game here staying relaxed and not using much effort if any at all. This building of energy, or from a holistic perspective Chi, Prana or Life force, means your body can use it for growth and repair as it builds and is not requied elsewhere… Progress. The body will prioritize organs over muscles bones and joints, so Working In has potential to boost the recovery of those sub systems. Be mindful that you are more than simply the sum of your parts.
Last but not least is biopsycosocial feedback. A breakdown of the session or event, planning future performance based on current experience. This can be organically infused with the previous recovery points to save time. It can be useful to gain outsiders perspective on your performance as well as inside knowledge from a coach or sporting team mate. Seeing yourself there long before it happens is a logical way to use visualisation in combination with biopsycosocial feedback. See yourself performing better and it will be so!
To sum up, post exercise optimal recovery for is an over lapping multi-factoral process. When considering the marginal gains required to succeed in high level sport a Holistic Individual approach is worthwhile. While you may not be able to use all the optimal recovery points mentioned above due to time, money or other restrictions why not give one or two a go and see what best suit you. After all you deserve it.
All the above is presuming that Sleep is of good quality, a minimal amount of 8 hours per night is had! In line with the Sun and Moon so to have good circadian rhythm, sleep is a very powerful element for recovery so if you are lacking in this department you must address this, its the second non negotiable! Turn off all light sources from 2000 hours, read not watch TV, turn off your mobile phones tablets and plugged in devices to reduce EMF pollution, meditate, use deep breathing techniques and keep a diary of sleep patterns.
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