woman using foam roller to aid workout recovery

Stress + Rest = Growth

When you exercise, you stress your body, you deplete your body’s fuel, and you damage your tissue. Resting / Recovering will allow your body to destress, replenish your energy stores and make the repairs to strengthen your muscles. Recovery is essential for human performance. Without recovery, your body will not be able to heal and to grow. There are many different external factors, outside of training, that help determine your recovery.

Nutrition

Eat well and hydrate! What you put into your body is the body’s fuel. Eat clean. Avoid processed foods. Eat whole foods. Decrease your consumption of foods that inflame your body (such as sugar, alcohol, friend foods), and consume plenty of BCAAs and protein for optimal cellular activity.

On average, we lose 3-4 liters of water per day just by functioning, that does not incorporate what we lose when we exercise! We need to replenish these stores daily. Being properly hydrated will allow us to properly carry nutrients and oxygen to our cells and joints. If you are exercising, try weighing yourself prior to activity and comparing it to post exercise. Consume your weight loss in water. ie – 1 lb = 1 pint of water.

Sleep

Good quality sleep matters. Sleep is vital to recovery because when you sleep you release hormones that promote healing, growth, and repair, such as Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF-1). Quantity and Quality of sleep is VERY important, as more hormones are released during deep sleep stages.

Recommendations for sleep:
● Try to get 7-9 hours per night
● Dark, cold, and quiet room
● Be properly hydrated, but do not drink close to bedtime in order to avoid bathroom trips in the middle of the night
● Limit external disturbance factors, such as pets in the bed
● Limit blue light exposure prior to bed (ie – mobile device & TV)
● Meditate.

Recovery Tools

If used properly, recovery tools such as mobility balls, foam rollers, massage guns, compression boots, and muscle stim can all help improve your body’s recovery. All of these tools can be used to improve blood flow/ circulation, downregulate or relax your nervous system, decrease cortisol levels, and help your body get into its anabolic state, when your body is building and repairing its tissue. Educate yourself before using them. For starters, use these tools for recovery. Be gentle with them! None of these tools should hurt you in any way!

Mindfulness

Relax your mind. Work on your mental health. Meditate. Practice positive reinforcements and positive self talk. Let your brain shut down and recover. Periods of mental rest are followed by more productive work periods.

Active Recovery

We all need to take days off from intense training. Mobility workouts, yoga and other low impact workouts are great ways to help improve your circulation, movement quality, range of motion, relax your nervous system, and even make improvements cognitively. Motion is lotion. The better your body awareness and movement quality is, the better your performance will be. Try doing active recovery (or even just totally resting!) workouts at least 1-2 days per week.

If you are constantly stressing your body and not taking enough rest, your body will never adapt and grow. Instead, your body will become inflamed, your performance will decrease, which may result in OTS, or overtraining syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining:
● Fatigue
● Heavy, sore, stiff muscles
● Musculoskeletal Injury
● Feeling depressed, anxious, or irritable
● Irregular heart rate or heart rhythm
● Loss of motivation, or even reduce competitiveness
● Insomnia
● Decreased appetite or weight loss
● Lack of concentration
● Poor immune system response (ie – colds symptoms more often than normal)

 

Takeaways:

✔ Eat well. What you put into your body is the body’s fuel. Decrease your consumption of foods that inflame your body (such as sugar, alcohol, friend foods), consume plenty of BCCAs and protein for optimal cellular activity.
✔ Hydrate! We lose, on average, 3-4 liters of water per day just by functioning. We need to replenish these stores daily. Being properly hydrated will allow us to properly carry nutrients and oxygen to our cells and joints
✔ Improve your sleep quality and quantity (7-9 hours, > 25% deep sleep, undisturbed)
✔ Relax your mind. Work on your mental health. Meditate.
✔ Spend time working on your recovery via the use of recovery tools and active recovery workouts to help improve blood flow, circulation, mobility, and flexibility.

Be consistent with your recovery. The more consistent you are, the better your body will recover, which in theory should optimize your performance.

 

Carter J, Potter A, Brooks K. Overtraining syndrome: Causes, consequences, and methods for prevention. J Sport Human Perf. 2014;2(1):1-14. doi:10.12922/jshp.0031.2014
Kreher J. Diagnosis and prevention of overtraining syndrome: An opinion on education strategies. Open Access J Sports Med. 2016;7:115–122. doi:10.2147/OAJSM.S91657

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Dan Giordano is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and CMO of Bespoke Treatments with 10+ years of experience.