The Top 5 Best Ways to Recover
I feel like I owe it to you to give you the cold hard facts. Everybody is different, and the best way to recover for you might be different for me. What we do know is that you can’t train really hard, day in and day out forever without breaking down. I know it seems like athletes can, and you seem to remember yourself being able to handle anything you threw at it. However, the older we get, to more we’ve got to realize that rest and recovery is just as important as training and exercise.
This doesn’t mean that you do nothing on your ‘rest’ days. But you’ve got to be disciplined if you want to keep training and competing and living life to the fullest. The recovery business is a huge booming market that is making money by taking yours promising huge benefits. Truth is, most of these devices/therapies fall short. So save your money. Here are my top 5 ways to recover. This list is my opinion based on the current body of research/evidence.
The Top 5 Ways to Recover
- Sleep. It may not sound as ‘sexy’ as something like cryotherapy, but this is the BEST way to recover. The harder you work, the more sleep you need. Everyone is a little different, but chances are you’ll need anywhere from 8-10 hours of recovery depending on how active and hard you’ve been pushing your body. Do yourself a favor, and plan on getting more sleep. Your body will thank us both!
- Proper nutrition. Again, not something fun and glamorous but VERY effective. Proper nutrition means hitting your macronutrients (are you getting enough protein? Are you eating 5+ servings of fruits/veggies?). As we train, our bodies break down. The means by which it’s rebuilt is protein. The more you train, the more protein you need in your diet. Proper nutrition also means managing your weight for your goals. It means putting great quality fuel into your body so it produces great results.
- Hydration. Just a loss in 1 lb of water weight can lead to a decrease in performance of 10%. And it’s not just water you lose, it’s electrolytes. You don’t need to always drink electrolyte drinks-just during and immediately after a tough bout of training or doing your sport (running, tennis, etc). As a rule of thumb, you should try to have clearer colored urine than not. It’s a rough gauge of your hydration level. We often confuse thirst for hunger. So drink up-water that is and every cell in your body will be happy.
- Compression. Compression in this context is looking at compression-wear. These are typically tights or socks. It’s important to say that this is like surgical compression-not just the XYZ sporting manufacturer that says it’s compression because it’s form-fitting/tight from spandex not actual compression. Compression wear does work…for recovery. Studies have found that they don’t help during your sport or activity, but they can aid in recovery post-exercise/post-exertion(1). I recommend using them and have found great benefit personally as well. If you don’t have a pair of compression socks, I’d recommend getting some. They are also great for keeping the edema/swelling at bay when you travel/fly.
- Soft tissue work. Soft tissue work is anything from foam rolling, smashing or getting a massage. Anything that can help improve the circulation and work out adhesions and knots and general tightness. There are tons of ways to address this and it’s completely up to you. But just because this is last on my list doesn’t mean you should skip it. Soft tissue work is probably the most crucial work you can be doing in-between your workouts/sports as a masters athlete. It will set you up for success each successive bout of exercise. It also helps with flexibility in addition to generally feeling good. So make sure you are diligent about this and you’re recovery will be 100% on-point.
These are my top 5 ways to recover. Doing these 5 things will help you recover like a pro and keep you performing and moving at your best capability.
Now I don’t pretend to know everything. So I went and interviewed Dr. Andrew Reheisse of Revive Sport and Spine. Dr. Reheisse deals with all sorts of masters athletes, specifically when they are hurt and helps them get back to training as quickly as possible. I asked him what his top 5 ways to recover were. Take a look at the interview.
- Do Compression Garments Enhance the Active Recovery Process After High-Intensity Running? J Strength Cond Res 25(12):