Hard work, however reckless, is romanticized among athletes and coaches. There is a mindset that says “more is always better,” with a complete disregard for the importance of recovery. (Find more ways to stay healthy.)
For athletes who are looking to improve their performance and stay healthy, this needs to change. Restoration is an important part of physical development and performance, and it must be considered in your training. Follow these three restoration techniques to recover faster and take your game to the next level.
Coaching restoration is a planned training session or period of time that allows you to recover from the stress of intense lifting to reach new levels of strength and performance.
Active rest and non-strenuous workouts are the best ways to mentally and physically recover from a tough workout. These involve performing low-impact movements that work the muscles that you hit hard to help you recover faster, increase blood flow and reduce soreness. Types of workouts you can perform include:
- Dynamic Warm-Ups — Increases blood flow to the muscles and improves overall mobility.
- Short and Low-Intensity Workouts — Go through a light workout using the same muscles with light weight and fewer sets and reps.
- Hiking — The constant change in slope challenges your legs, while minimizing impact and joint stress.
- Strongman Training — Sled Drags, Prowler or Pate Pushes, and light Farmer’s Walks are great examples. Make sure to perform an exercise that corresponds to the area you are focusing on, and use light weight on each exercise.
The goals with this type of recovery are to improve tissue quality, reduce soreness and improve mobility. Common techniques include:
- Foam Rolling — Helps return bodily functions to normal after the trauma of an intense workout by improving blood flow and breaking up adhesions.
- Cold Therapy — Ice baths and cold showers raise levels of enzymes that build muscle and enhance performance. Also, taking a cold shower 10 minutes after waking has been shown to actually increase testosterone levels in men.
When using cold therapy to recover from workouts, contrast showers work best. The sudden change from cold to hot helps decrease pain and flush toxins built up from a tough workout. When taking a contrast shower, stand in the hot water twice as long as the cold and repeat three to four times.
Psychological restoration is an often-overlooked technique that uses meditation, autosuggestion and visualization to enhance your mindset. This can help you mentally recover and prepare for further intense training sessions. Try this meditation routine:
- Find a quiet place
- Sit in a comfortable position instead of lying down (to avoid falling asleep)
- Focus only on your breathing
- After you inevitably start thinking about something else, draw attention back to your breathing
- Keep attention on your breathing for 5 minutes
- Arroyo-Morales M, Olea N, Martínez MM, Hidalgo-Lozano A, Ruiz-Rodríguez C, Díaz-Rodríguez L. “Psychophysiological effects of massage-myofascial release after exercise: a randomized sham-control study.” J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Dec;14(10):1223-9.
- Arroyo-Morales M, Olea N, Martinez M, Moreno-Lorenzo C, Díaz-Rodríguez L, Hidalgo-Lozano A. “Effects of myofascial release after high-intensity exercise: a randomized clinical trial.” J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2008 Mar;31(3):217-23.
- Banfi G, Lombardi G, Colombini A, Melegati G. “Whole-body cryotherapy in athletes.” Sports Med. 2010 Jun 1;40(6):509-17.Review.
- Siff, MC. “Stress management and restoration,” in Sports Restoration and Massage. MC, Siff, M, Yessis, eds. School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa: School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Witwatersrand; 1-12, 1992.