Unconventional Workout Recovery Hacks
Nothing quite matches the feeling or sense of accomplishment that comes with destroying a workout -- you know the kind we’re talking about. One where you left every bit of energy, strength, and power on the mat. You feel like King Kong screaming at the top of the Empire State Building!
That is until, debilitating soreness sets in all over your body…
Sure crushing a workout is great, but it isn’t really all that fun using a walker to get around for the next few days while dealing with horrible DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). There must be some way to rock a hardcore workout and still be able to function in the days following it, isn’t there?
Of course there is!
It’s all about proper recovery!
We’re here to give you several hacks to beat back DOMS so you can keep crushing it in the gym day after day.
Before we get to our unconventional hacks, it’s important for us to stress that none of these hacks will do a lick of good if you’re not doing the conventional recovery protocols properly.
We’re of course talking about fueling your body properly with a sound diet comprised of adequate proteins, carbs, and fats as well as getting a full 7-9 hours of sleep every night! Nothing can substitute for these cornerstones of proper recovery.
Now that that’s out of the way, onto the real “hacks” of recovery!
Top 5 Unconventional Recovery Hacks
We’ll kick off our list with one of the biggest trends sweeping the industry right now -- ice baths. After a tough workout, you’re typically hot and drenched in sweat. What better way to cool off and start the recovery process than by taking a dip in a tub of ice water?!
The reasoning behind ice baths post workout is that they help constrict blood vessels, reduce swelling, and flush the body of waste products. As the body warms up, blood flow increases, enhancing circulation of nutrients and kickstarting the recovery and repair process. Even better, several research trials have shown cold water therapy to be beneficial in recovery and reducing markers of muscle damage.[1,2]
Also known as self-myofascial release (SMR), foam rolling is a fancy term for self-massage to relieve tight muscles brought on by trigger points. SMR can be accomplished with a number of tools including a foam roller, lacrosse ball, PVC pipe, or any number of other tools.
Foam rolling works by applying pressure to the specific points on your body that ache in an effort to get them to release and therefore restore the smooth, elastic nature of the muscle. Exercise beats up muscles, and foam rolling helps return the muscles to their normal functioning state, be forewarned though, if you’ve never done any of the SMR methods before they can be a bit painful!
If you’ve watched any sort of athletic event, you’ve no doubt seen several of the professional athletes sporting this compression sleeves on their arms and legs. But why in the world do they wear them?
As it turns out, compression garments are another unconventional hack for improving performance and recovery. These sleeves purportedly increase circulation by squeezing and compacting the muscles and flesh of your arms and legs -- thereby delivering additional oxygen and nutrients to muscles to speed removal of metabolic waste products that accumulate during exercise. There are a few other theories as to why they work, but you get the gist of it.
Several studies have been performed on these garments, and the research is conflicting to say the least[3,4,5,6], but if it seems to enhance your own personal recovery, keep it up!
Similar to foam rolling, here you can go to a licensed masseuse to rub out all of your aches and pains. Deep tissue massage can be a great way to help restore function to the muscles and alleviate much of the soreness that accrues after days and weeks of tough workouts.
Just be sure to drink plenty of water afterwards though, as deep tissue massage might just leave you as sore as your intense workout!
Last but not least, doing some light exercise may actually help improve the recovery process as well. Going for a hike, brisk walk, or power yoga class can be a great way to get the blood moving and heart rate up a little bit to bring some fresh nutrients and blood to the sore areas and flush out excess soreness.
Keep in mind though, that you’re not trying to overdue things hear. When we say “light” exercise, we mean it….push too hard on your active recovery day, and you just turned it into another workout, thereby pushing off the recovery process and setting yourself up for more aches and pains.
These recovery hacks can be a fantastic way to “accelerate” your recovery, but they cannot take the place of actual recovery protocols such as adequate rest, proper nutrition, and plenty of sleep. Make sure to plan enough rest days per week and the occasional “deload” when your body is telling you it needs one. On top of that, manipulate volume and intensity during both training and rest weeks to unload built up fatigue and set yourself up for greater gains in the future.
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