Fitness recovery isn’t only about rest. Certain techniques offer faster, more effective recovery after endurance or high intensity training—a big plus for those who compete or follow more intensive fitness programs like CrossFit. By the way, if you missed this week’s feature, Rest and Recovery: A Whole New Perspective, be sure to check it out.
Now onto those techniques…
Cold therapy can help speed recovery by delivering a refreshing psychological sensation and recalibrating the central nervous system and muscle metabolic activity back to calm, cool resting levels. Full body immersion into water at 50 ºF to 60 ºF (10 ºC to 15 ºC) for five to ten minutes, is believed to be the optimal strategy for post-exercise cold therapy.
The old injury treatment protocol of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is being replaced in the eyes of many experts with ECM (Elevate, Compress, Move). Icing of injuries can retard the natural healing process.
Compression wraps or garments act like pumps to squeeze blood vessels open with force, allowing more blood and oxygen into the area and improving removal of waste and excess fluid. Studies suggest reduced muscle soreness and improved performance using compression garments.
Movement is also an important element of recovery. Athletes should refrain from prolonged stillness periods after workouts, and throughout the day. Over time, efforts to move more will result in improvements in the familiar morning stiffness that many athletes experience.
Self-myofascial release is an effective recovery technique. Using rollers or balls, you can apply deep pressure to trigger points that represent the origination of stiffness and mobility problems, which possibly refer pain elsewhere. Self-myofascial release delivers the added benefit of stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing you to truly unwind after workouts.
For more fitness recovery techniques, check out Primal Endurance and “7 Things You May Be Doing That Impair Workout Recovery.”