Via STACKAre you ready for a bombshell? Lifting weights does not make you stronger. Recovering from training makes you stronger. That's a bit of an exaggeration. You need to lift weights, but your body adapts and gets bigger and stronger while you're recovering. If you fail to recover properly, you will never realize the full benefit of your workouts. And if you're an in-season athlete, recovering properly can be the difference between making a play or getting injured and sitting out. You need to have a prime muscle recovery method in order to recover from training, to get stronger and avoid injury. RELATED: 4 Essential Recovery Techniques for Every Athlete Here are the best ways for you to recover to stay injury-free this season.
Ice bath/cold bathMost people have heard of taking ice baths to recover. All you need to do is fill your tub with cold tap water and, if desired, add ice. Stay in the bath for 6-10 minutes. The water should be anywhere from 50 to 60 degrees for an ice bath or 60 to 75 degrees for a cold bath if you can't get ice. After your ice bath, let your body warm back up. Have a warm drink, put on a pair of sweats or hop under a blanket. Try not to take a hot shower because that will minimize the effectiveness of the ice bath. Your body needs to create the heat itself.
Massage or foam rollingIn the realm of soft tissue work, a professional athletic deep tissue massage is king. A massage therapist can tell where you need work even when you can't tell. It might bring you to tears while it's happening, but you will feel fantastic afterwards. If you can regularly get massages, it's a recovery game changer. However, a good massage on a regular basis can get pricey. For anyone who can't afford it, using a foam roller can be a good substitute, and foam rollers are pretty common now. They are great, but it can be hard to hit your smaller muscles and hard-to-reach areas. For that I prefer a lacrosse ball. Just put it up against a wall or on the ground and roll out those tough spots. When you do foam roll, make sure it's after a workout or make it a pre-bedtime ritual.
StretchingStatic stretching may no longer have a role in warm-ups, but stretching is key to staying injury-free. Yoga is fantastic way to do this. That being said, I know a lot of people won 't sign up for a yoga class, but they should try stretching for a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes per day. A convenient time to do this could be just before bed, but keep in mind you don't want to stretch a cold muscle, so I suggest after a hot shower or bath.
Contrast showerThe contrast method is simple in theory. Go from hot water to cold water and repeat. Many pro teams and colleges have hot and cold tubs where you simply hop out and walk from one to the other. The rest of us can try contrast showers. Turn the water hot, but not painfully so, then turn the water as cold as you can get it. Depending on where you look, you can find different times suggested for each. The most popular is 2 minutes of hot water followed by 1 minute of cold repeated 4-5 times. RELATED: Boost Your Recovery With a Contrast Shower
Salt bathAhhhh, here you go. Finally something that's not cold. Run a nice hot bath (again not painful), pour in at least 2 cups of Epsom salts and enjoy. The Epsom salt heals sore muscles, soothes injuries, and stimulates overall relaxation. Feel free to kick it up a notch and do some aroma therapy to recover and relax mentally and physically. Do this 1 to 3 times a week, soak in the bath 20-30 minutes and you will be golden.
Sleep and nutritionDefinitely the least flashy way to recover. Just get more sleep and eat healthy. Sleep is when your body does the most to repair itself mentally and physically. This is especially vital if you're an in-season athlete, so cut down on the late nights. Nutrition-wise, there are different things you can do. First, make sure you're eating enough. If you're beating your body up in training you need to refuel to build yourself back up. The quality of the food is also important. If you are skipping veggies and other healthy foods for super processed junk food, you will not perform at your best or recover properly. RELATED: 5 Tips for Optimal Rest and Recovery Your recovery program doesn't have to be complicated. If you are not doing anything to recover, simply adding these to your routine will help big time. If you're an in-season athlete, your need to recover is at an all-time high. In order to stay healthy and compete at your best, you should be taking your recovery seriously! Your recovery program could look something like this.
|-Stretch -Contrast shower -Foam roll||-Stretch -Contrast shower -Foam roll||-Stretch -Ice bath -Foam roll||-Stretch -Contrast shower -Foam roll||-Stretch -Ice bath -Foam roll||-Stretch -Contrast shower -Foam roll||-Stretch -Massage -Hot salt bath|