The Olympic Games - a competition featuring the greatest athletes in the world. The word athlete means one who competes for a prize and contends in exercises requiring great physical agility and strength. What is necessary for these athletes to get to the highest level in their sport? Training and recovery from training.
What does recovery look like for an Olympian and does this apply to you and me? First, let’s define recovery. It is defined as the athlete’s ability to regenerate and return from the physical and mental fatigue induced by training and competition. Athletes and coaches are taking an increasingly scientific approach to designing training programs and monitoring the response to those training programs. At the end of the day, is the athlete’s performance progressing or regressing?
The first order of business is to make sure you are healthy and ready to train. Do you have any pre-existing medical conditions or prior injuries that have not healed? Have these assessed by a skilled practitioner and make a plan to address them. It can be done while you train depending on the problem. Are you taking any medications? These can have a significant effect on your recovery. Talk to your pharmacist as well as your physician.
The most well researched strategies for recovery are as follows:
Nutrition & Hydration. This is kind of a no-brainer, but most people do not have this dialed in. Do you function better on a plant-based diet or meat-based diet or somewhere in-between. Do you function best on water only or do you need additional sodium and other electrolytes? Work with a practitioner who can see how the different diets and hydration strategies affect your blood metrics and your performance, so you know what is best for you.
Sleep. Another no-brainer. Emerging research is showing us that sleep likely helps decrease exercise-induced muscle-injuries, controls local inflammation, and decreases pain.
Stress. What is your current life situation? Are you stress-free and able to train without interruption or do you have a lot of “stuff” going on. Developing strategies to address stress like meditation can be very helpful. And yes, training may be the best stress reliever of them all!
Recovery Tools. Deep tissue massagers and percussion guns and gear to increase blood flow are the top-rated tools in this area. The best muscle massage gun is the one that both vibrates and penetrates at the best frequency and depth for you. How you apply it is also critical for getting the best results. We will discuss this more in future posts.
While there was no prize for coming in second place at the Ancient Olympics, your prize for implementing optimal recovery strategies will be a life of good health and fitness. Remember, your training is only as good as the recovery that follows. So “Hammer out your recovery!”