Recovery is often an overlooked aspect of training. Whether you’re preparing to take on Mt Everest, a marathon, trail running, or another event, the same principle applies- you need recovery to gain strength, resilience, and overall fitness.
Integrating holistic techniques into our recovery will improve not only our physical training efforts but our psychological outcome too!
When we intuitively tune into our bodies, we can learn to sync with the ques that our magical system puts out for us. Pain, tightness, fatigue, and cramps are all signs that you aren’t recovering correctly or giving yourself adequate rest for our bodies to do their work and repair it.
Proper recovery helps to avoid injury, improve physical and cognitive performance, building resilience, essentially making you stronger & fitter. When we feel stronger, and perform better it builds our motivation, clarity, aptitude, and improves our wellbeing; a holistic effect.
Training creates micro stressors and tears on our muscles (these are the good type that builds strength and power), and to enable our body to function and repair the ‘damage’ we don’t need to do a lot and that is generally the problem. We are always running around from thing to the next, face locked with screens and messing with the natural balance of our circadian rhythm and sleep cycles.
When we rest, get adequate sleep, nourishment, and hydration our body flicks the switch to the parasympathetic nervous system of rest and digest. This is where the magic happens and the body sets about repairing the micro-tears and creating a stronger fiber, reducing inflammation, and triggers the sleepiness so you stop EVERYTHING and sleep so it can do its work.
Ever wondered why you are so tired after a training session or a day hike? Your autonomous nervous system wants you to sleep so it has control of the recovery process.
After a big day hiking or a killer strength session, I ensure that I tick off the following elements. Even if you can squeeze in just a few of these, you are likely to benefit.
Not only is nutrition a bital component of pre-training but post-training we need to ensure that we are consuming carbohydrates to replace our glycogen stores and help the body in recovery. Protein is important as it aids in muscle and tissue repair, it contributes to muscle growth.
Replenishing electrolytes after strenuous exercise is crucial, particularly of importance is magnesium as it aids in muscular recovery and relaxation of the muscle fibres and avoids painful cramping!
Think steamed brown rice with green leafy Asian vegetables with miso salmon or chicken.
Nuts and seeds, trail mix is great on the trail – add some dark chocolate for a quick glucose hit.
Sweat, urination, and general body function will deplete your H20 levels, and if not quickly replaced you will endure muscle soreness/cramps, nausea and fatigue. Staying sufficiently hydrated aids recovery and required for almost all bodily processes in the body– water transports many electrolytes to the cells in order to function.
Water is best however a Lavender or chamomile tea will help to aid in good sleep.
One of the most important factors of recovery is to catch Zzz’s. We need quality sleep to provide optimal output for power and strength in addition to cognitive function and general wellbeing.
Our circadian rhythm is scattered with the amount of time we spend in front of TVs, screens and phones – all emitting the blue light. Not only do they interfere with the natural production of melatonin, the notifications, colours, but lights are also all vying for your attention and activating the sympathetic nervous system- fight or flight mode- it wants a reaction, click here, respond to that, look this way.. It’s exhausting.
This means that your parasympathetic nervous system is waiting for you to pass out so it can get to work to recover from your day- give it a hand by reading a book instead, avoiding electronics at least 1 hour before bed, and create positive behaviour patterns and routines around bedtime.
If it helps to download your mind bubbles- write a journal entry before switching off the light.
If journaling isn’t your thing or you just don’t know what to write try a guided mediation of full-body scan where you relax the body completely starting from your head to your toes. These generally involve breathwork which helps to activate the rest/digest mode through deep, conscious breathing. The result? A better quality sleep – recovery mode on!
DOMS- Delayed onset muscle soreness. You have spent the day pushing boundaries, accomplished your first 18km + hike – well done! The best thing you can do is to keep moving. A gentle walk to move the legs is ideal or swim, yoga or Pilates are great complementary exercises that will help stretch out the muscles and speed up recovery.
A foam roller or yoga balls (like a squash ball) are great tools to have at home to target those sore muscles and release some tension. Follow up with an Epsom salt bath, a few drops of essential oil (lavender will take you to the land of nod) and climb into bed and let your body get to work.
A gentle approach is key here. Just keep moving.
If you want to chase those gains, climb that mountain or smash the sash, make sure you are working towards recovering well too and you will see increased benefits.