Monday, July 21, 2014

Recover Faster: Three Great Strategies

Over the last two years, I've completely embraced the ACSM's "Exercise is Medicine" Theory by employing nearly all exercises promoted by Dr. Metzl in Inside the Doctor's Office - and then some. Still, something was missing: 
RECOVERY
I could do all the exercises in the world to strengthen my glutes, hammies, quads, core - you name it, but without the proper recovery - 
I'm doomed!
As runners it seems we all fall victim to getting lost in our goals.
We must get our long run in, a track workout, hill repeats - or even a simple recovery run - and ugh if we don't - it's like we'll turn into pumpkins by midnight or something!
We get so lost - we forget how to touch base with our bodies. 
Even Dr Metzl states in his videos: 
'If it hurts, STOP, because you can make it worse.'
This is so intuitive, but sometimes it just doesn't register!
That's why we must include Recovery Goals!
I don't want to feel sore or hurt every time I go out for a run. I like running (duh)! I want to keep running - heck, I got the NYC Marathon in four months and I want my name on that 1st page listing of Females 50-55! 
Fit For Life Half Marathon in Boise, Idaho
Finally realizing I need better Recovery Techniques
I know there are lots more recovery strategies besides the three I've listed here. Like my previous post, The Four R's to Recovery, which talks about nutrition - and stretching  - which can be fun if you take a yoga class or employ the Thera Band Stretch Strap. But I've been practicing those recovery strategies - I don't need to just recover, I need to
Recover Faster!
By incorporating the three following three recovery steps, I've noticed an immediate change -  I ran 10 miles yesterday at an 8:20 pace like I was taking a stroll in the park!

# 1. Sleep Baby, Sleeeeeeep:
When I was completing part of my elective rotation with Heidi Skolnik at the 92nd Street Y, she stressed that besides nutrition, sleep is super important in our efforts to recover from strenuous exercise. If our sleep is too short, the body doesn't have time to repair muscles, or release hormones that help with tissue repair (and appetite control).
The big question is how much sleep is enough?
Like food, this is very individual - it depends on age, health status - check out the National Sleep Foundation, they have some good guidelines.
#2.  Massage your Muscles
Massage helps to reduce swelling, muscle inflammation, and accelerate the return of strength after exercise. If the thought of lying on a table while someone plays soft music and has musk permeating the room doesn't appeal to you - that's okay - because there are lots of things you can do as an athlete that are "massage-like". My fave is foam rolling. 
Did you know that if a muscle is giving you problems 
Another form of massage I started again is Active Release Therapy (ART). I'm seeing Dr. Mike again at Advanced Performance & Rehabilitation Center (A.P.R.C). After seeing Dr. Mike in December 2012, I set my 1/2 marathon PR! I don't know why I stopped? Well, maybe it's because ART can be a little painful - but it's so worth it!
Another massage-like therapy I'm going to try after my track work out this Wednesday is 
This technology is designed to help speed recovery using three compression strategies. Can't wait!
#3.  Take a Bath: 
Try both: An Ice Bath and a Mineral Salt Bath. 
Most recent research shows that ice baths should last for 10 minutes and be about 60*F if you want them to combat micro trauma (small muscle tears) and delay onset muscle soreness (DOMS). They do this by restricting blood vessels, flushing out waste products in the blood, and reducing further tissue breakdown. Then, as the tissues warm, blood flow is increased, bringing blood back to the muscle tissues to begin the healing process. 
I admit - these are a little tough, too.
I've been doing them post long runs and 
Brrrr! 
As for the Mineral Salts - you don't have to go crazy, Epsom Salts will do the trick. I went a little exotic and bought some Dead Sea Mineral Salts. The theory here is based on the minerals which detoxify tissues and promote healing. Haven't seen any peer reviewed article on benefits to athletes who take a soak in Mineral Salt Baths - only some interesting stuff on drinking deep ocean mineral salts - but buyer beware because they're also designed to clean you out! If interested in using mineral salts for recovery, check out the Epsom Salt Council Website for more info. 
Personally, I believe getting enough sleep, 
foam rolling, and the Active Release Therapy
along with the ice and mineral baths 
are definitely helping speed my recovery.
It's exactly what I need so when I'm ready to hit the road, I've got fresh legs, ankles, and feet!
What are your top recovery strategies?

Train Smart Today!