Recovery and Stretching
There are many different methods of recovery however some activities are better than others when it comes to effectiveness. Along with recovery activities, proper nutrition and getting enough quality sleep are extremely important in aiding recovery. Contrary to popular belief static stretching is not the best method when it comes to recovery. The goal of any type of recovery activity is to accelerate the filtration of metabolic waste from your system and down regulate the sympathetic input from your central nervous system (CNS). The filtration of metabolic waste will help to decrease muscle soreness and stiffness so that when you go to workout tomorrow you are able to perform at the optimal level. In addition, you want to decrease the sympathetic input from your CNS to help your body relax and to decrease activation of certain muscles that you just brought to fatigue. The idea behind this is to be able to function at an optimal level throughout you daily routine and decrease your risk of injury and/or overuse.
Below you will find a few activities you can implement into your recovery routine. These activities are listed from most to least effective (in our opinion)
Foam Rolling (Self Mobilization with Movement):
Foam rolling is a great tool for recovery because it helps mobilize tissues and increases circulation of metabolic waste. However, many people are not performing foam rolling in an effective manner. Time: When foaming rolling you want to shoot for about 1-2 minutes per muscle group that are you focusing on. Type: Within those 1-2 minutes you also want to contract and relax the tissue that is being mobilized. In addition, focus on your breathing and really letting your body relax into the foam roller. This will help down regulate your neural input to that muscle leading to a deeper relaxation. Below is an excellent example of how to perform an effective self mobilization with a foam roller.
These principles can be applied to virtually any muscle group. A few examples that we recommend to many of our clients are the lateral quad, hip adductor group, and lats. In addition, if you want to elevate this method even further make sure you are following your foam rolling with some type of neuromuscular re-education exercise. These can be banded side steps or bilateral shoulder external rotation. If you need more ideas on what exercises to perform head over to our Youtube channel.
This activity is a great alternative to static stretching as it helps decrease stiffness while moving through the available range of motion of that joint. The reason why foam rolling is better alternative is the benefit of down regulating your CNS that foam rolling offers to recovery. Time: 5-8 minutes Type: within those 5-8 minutes try to hit at least 3 large muscle groups that you worked on in that workout. Below is an excellent example of a dynamic stretch we use to improve hip mobility
Go for a walk! Performing light intensity cardio after your workout can help improve circulation and decrease muscle soreness. Time: 8-10 minutes Type: anything that you enjoy; treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc. Like you do with the foam rolling make sure you are really focusing on deep breathing and trying to get your heart rate to come down. The purpose of this activity is to, again, down regulate your CNS so that your body can relax and function better as you move throughout your normal routines.
Static stretching is something we see a lot of our clients being taught by other health care professionals to help improve mobility and muscle length. Many people use static stretching to help improve their mobility. However, mobility issues can sometimes be due to a muscle activation issue vs a true joint mobility issue. That is why it is even more important to know your movement diagnosis. There is a time and place for static stretching, however there is a lot of researching showing that there is actually not a large increase in tissue length when static stretching is performed. Stay tuned for “Stretching: The Good and The Bad Part 2” to understand when static stretching should be applied and the most effective way to perform it.
In summary, the main goal of any recovery activity is to help improve circulation of metabolic waste and down regulate the sympathetic input from your CNS. You want to achieve this to help decrease your risk of injury, decrease overuse of certain muscles, and decrease delayed onset muscle soreness. There are many different activities you can perform however some can be more effective than others.
Let us know if you have questions or comments about this content! #MoveWellWithXcel