I think most athletes know that recovery is important but how many of us really prioritize recovery like we do training? I know I am guilty of not doing this. I spend a lot of time thinking about what training program I am going to follow, spend time working out what my goals are and what weaknesses I am going to work on, but recovery is a bit of an after thought....that is until something happens.
Right now I am carrying an achilles/foot injury and have some nagging pains in my shoulder which has got me thinking a lot more about recovery and whether I am really doing enough. I started doing a little research and in simple terms recovery basically boiled down to 4 things:
Nothing beats sleep and rest. In my case I think I have this covered pretty well. I am usually a good sleeper and regularly get 8 hours per night.
What you eat clearly has a direct impact on your recovery and performance and getting your food on point is critical for any athlete.
For me this is always a work in progress. In day to day terms my diet is pretty good but in athlete terms it could always be improved! I have worked with a few nutrition coaches over the past few years and highly recommend doing this (even for a short time) if you are unsure about diet. Now I am at the point where I know what I need to do I just need to do it...ALL the time!
Physical recovery treatments can come in many different forms including things like stretching/mobility work, massage, ice baths, salt baths, active recovery sessions and work with physical therapists.
My use of physical therapy can be described as ad hoc at best! I know I am bad at doing regular mobility work and need to do this more. I do other things like massage and salt baths from time to time but not with any consistency and not enough to be really effective. What normally drives me to do something is a tweak or an injury and that needs to change. I need to be better at preventative maintenance and not just be reactive.
Once you have points 1 through to 3 covered then the next area to look at is supplements. There is so much information out there on supplements and I cannot cover it all here. But I did come across this article published by HVMN on the topic of supplements for recovery and it has given me some good for thought.
My use of supplements currently is fairly basic (I use Casein Protein powder and sometimes WPI but that is all) but I think it is time to do some experimentation for myself and try out some new products and see if they make a difference for me.
By no means is the above an extensive list of all the things you can do to recover, but I like to keep things fairly simple. I know I am not doing enough of the simple things and my body is paying for it. I need to proactively plan recovery into my week and be more consistent and diligent with it and that is going to start now!
Being fit and strong is great but we need to be healthy. We need to be look after our bodies so they can carry us into a long happy life while achieving our fitness goals now.
Happy training & happy recovery everyone!