Whether you’re a professional athlete or weekend warrior, training for a sport isn’t only about lifting weights. Strength training helps increase power and speed. However, many people are missing out on flexibility and recovery training, which can greatly improve their athletic performance and ease of movement.
After really intense workouts like high intensity interval training or even a CrossFit workout, it may take up to seven days to have the body fully recover. In order to stimulate muscle growth, the muscles get broken down at the fiber level which causes inflammation. To speed healing of the muscle fibers, replenish the ph levels of the muscle tissues from buildup of lactic acid, and even restore hormone levels, recovery is key. It's somewhat normal to feel tired after exercise. When you repeatedly don’t allow your body to recover after and in between workouts, your body will feel fatigue, and being fatigued will diminish your performance efforts and will change the way you are able to perform the next workout or sports challenge
What is recovery training?
Recovery training helps the body to restore homeostasis. Proper recovery techniques allow the body to heal faster. This means the body can then be prepared for workouts in less time to increase the amount of strength and power gains. Massage, stretch and deep tissue massage for myofascial release can be part of a recovery routine.
Massage brings blood flow and circulation directly to the muscles. It can help push the blood through bringing nutrients and release toxins. This is why hydrating after a massage is key. Hydration helps move out the released toxins and restore normal ph to the blood and muscles.
Stretching, especially active stretching, can also bring about these same benefits. Active stretching is one of the best types of stretching. Active stretching calls upon opposing muscle groups to contract to help release the other muscles. Props with active stretching can help target large muscle groups while giving the body a point of stability to stretch from. For example, a yoga wheel can be a wonderful tool if helping open the chest muscles and release the tension in the upper back. Start sitting on the ground with legs outstretched to the front and place a small yoga wheel under the shoulder blades as you lay down. Slowly leaning back over the wheel helps lengthen the chest, forearm, lats and other forward pulling muscles of the upper body. Make this an active stretch by squeezing the shoulder blades together and pressing the shoulders down away from the ears. After a vigorous upper body workout this is one of the best stretches for recovery.
Deep tissue massage can help with recovery too. It can provide myofascial release which allows for better flexibility and ease of movement. Deep tissue massage can be done manually or with the aid of tools like the FLX infinity ball, mini massage balls, percussion guns, or massage rollers. Like stretching and massage, using massage balls can increase your blood circulation, which is an important contributing factor for healing and nourishing the entire body. Deep tissue massage balls and mini massage balls are designed to isolate and target specific muscles. The size and shape will depend on which particular area you want to target. Although deep tissue massage may be uncomfortable, with regular practice the tension and the body’s ability to relax will improve. The tighter the muscles, the more uncomfortable the rolling and pressure may be. You can use the balls with the use of a floor, a wall, or a chair to work on specific pressure to the designated area.
For larger muscle groups like the hamstrings, tensor fasciae latae, or quads, a 4-6” massage ball or massage stick may be optimal. For smaller more targeted areas in the shoulder, calf or shoulder blade in the upper back, a smaller ball may be useful.