As my Training Hard post covered, I’ve been working hard in the last few weeks. Physically I mean. Clearly I always work hard at my desk every day 🙂
As a consequence I need to recover just as well. This means I need several recovery strategies depending on what I’m needing to fix, and/or what time I have available.
Generally I make use of:
- foam rolling
- epsom salts
- physio (when necessary)
The first week of the training plan was a baptism of fire with the squats. It was also the start of training post holiday which is always harder too. Enjoying poolside cocktails is great for the soul and necessary every so often for relaxation and mental recovery. However it doesn’t necessarily fuel one for lugging heavy-assed weights around! The result was me struggling to walk!
Then last week a month of solid training, as well as dropping a small amount of fat (also still a work in progress), left every bit of me aching even when I was doing very little.
I’ve had to employ all but the last of these since starting this training plan!
Sleep is underrated in terms of recovery. And in terms of day-to-day life. Credibility in burning the candle at both ends, or working late hours, sadly have become the norm in the UK over the last twenty or thirty years. Since I’ve been training hard, and learning more about nutrition, sleep has been repeatedly shown to be of benefit. I definitely feel this too. Often my muscles feel happier once I’ve had a few good sleeps. They may ache gently when I wake, but they do feel better overall.
In the last couple of years I have finally seen the benefit of foam rolling and similar self-help techniques. I do this a fair amount now, and have a hand-held roller, a spiky ball, a grooved trigger point roller, and a plain old foam roller. It depends what are where the pain or tension is as to which I use. And all of them seem to both amuse and confuse the cats!
I’ve already talked about having sports massage as a means of recovery. I’ll reiterate it now. It helps to remove knots and work out issues before they become bigger issues and injuries. Whilst on holiday I had a deep tissue massage as a treat. I have to say that small Mexican women are brutal! But it was worth it. It really helped my post injury muscles. Massage is also good for helping the body to remove toxins. However well we eat and rest, training hard stresses the body, and it must flush out the rubbish.
Which leads me on to epsom salts. More specifically in baths, rather than for digestion. As a shower lover, I’ve finally begun to see the benefits of baths. At least when it involves hot water, minerals, and using the jet option in our new(ish) bath 🙂 Epsom salts is magnesium sulphate, known for the area in which it was discovered to have benefits. Magnesium is actually very important to the human body and helps the it to regulate over 325 enzymes! When bathing in epsom salts, the sulphate draws toxins from the body as the body absorbs the magnesium (through the skin); keeping the balance the same! In doing this it helps to reduce swelling and helps to relax muscles. All necessary for repair. The bonus of a hot bath is the heat encourages blood flow, which is also necessary for recovery. Since the recommended dose is a couple of cups dissolved into a bath, then make sure you buy it in large quantities over the internet rather than the expensive and small containers many high street stores sell. A 5kg bag wont go to waste if you are training regularly!
A trip to the physio doesn’t have to be a last resort. I’ve learnt that since my injury. I know now of several warning signs, which if they occur again I’ll make an appointment and get things seen to earlier. And hopefully prevent full muscle tears! I continued to see the physio after the initial injury had healed so she could check on my progress whilst I started to train again and make sure things weren’t starting to go backwards. She was also able to loosen up things that had started to tighten.
Hydration is also important for helping the body to recover. It’s something I’ve worked hard to improve. Remembering to drink often enough at my desk is my current battle as I’m pretty much OK otherwise now.
Comment if you have any more recovery strategies that work for you. Any more useful ideas very welcome 🙂