My name is Erica. And I’ve been a terrible ambassador to the strength and conditioning field.
Up until now, I haven’t spoken much on recovery. I’ve been all about going balls-to-the-wall, talking biomechanics, showcasing exercise progressions, encouraging progressive overload, and talking about everything that involves training hard as fuck and doing crazy shit like this:
The piece to the pie I’ve forgotten is how to recover properly and how to simply, slow the eff down.
While it’s great to push your body through new feats of strength, every now and then, we need time to regroup so we don’t stagnate or burn out.
More often than not, coaches ignore recovery which is a critical component to performance training that actually allows us to train harder and push ourselves even more.
And I’m willing to bet a lot of us do an excellent job at starting the recovery process in all other areas of our lives:
1.) After a week of work we do yoga or go to the spa.
2.) After tax season we blow our tax returns on vacation.
3.) After a night out drinking we guzzle down water and hit the nearest brunch spot.
Speaking of drinking, I remember back in college, my morning after recovery became a habit. In fact, I had a case of water, gatorade, Tylenol, and a loaf of bread all on deck in my apartment. To say I was *on point* with my drinking recovery, is an understatement.
And I believe our athletes and clients and ourselves should turn our training recovery into a habit as well.
This starts with coaches and trainers educating everyone. Ask yourself, “am I talking about recovery enough?” Moreover, “am I showing people the best ways to recover?”
With these in mind, let’s dive right into 3 ways to recovery quickly and easily:
1.) Stretch and release.
Oftentimes, I see athletes half-assing their stretching, whether this is after a training session or competition.
I think this is because they don’t know what “big rock” muscles to stretch, so they plop on the ground and perform a “groin” stretch that looks like criss-cross-apple-sauce from elementary school.
Depending on the sport or the athlete or the client, pick 3 major muscle groups to stretch immediately following competition or training. For soccer players, it’s safe to say the hip flexors, priformis, and the quadriceps. But. This could vary from person to person.
Here are a few stretches and roll-outs to try that take less than 5 minutes:
All of these can be done immediately following a training, or if an athlete has two games in one day, in between games works too.
I recommend buying a small foam roller that can easily fit into your gym or sports bag.
Recovery doesn’t mean sit still all day. It’s more than okay to perform light exercise, especially movements that activate muscles to be used the next day.
Core and hip activation, with bodyweight or mini bands, comes into play here since these muscle groups are used for every movement we do in the gym and on the pitch. The core and hips transfer power, as well as help to stabilize our bodies against external forces and reduce chance of injury.
Here are a few sample exercises:
3.) Move lightly and breathe.
A little cardio speeds up the recovery process, whether this is from walking, hiking, cycling, or jogging, getting in 20-30 minutes on your off day will help increase blood flow and repair muscle damage in your muscles.
While performing cardio, focus on breathing through your belly to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and calm you down.
If you need help with this, try it lying down with your hands on your belly:
If you want to evade a constant state of soreness, try these simple steps.
Even if you begin by stretching a couple minutes post-workout, or foam roll a few times a week, you’re already making strides to making recovery a habit.
So buy a foam roller, do some hip rocks, and do some diaphragmatic breathing while watching Dave Chapelle. I don’t even care…just do SOMETHING.