6 Tools to Recover the Right Way
With so many of you still riding and racing high profile races, I wanted to remind you of some key elements to recovering correctly. Remember, it’s what you do afterwards that really affects how quickly you recover and improve as a rider and racer.
Sugar: your energy to ride, race and cross train comes from your muscles and your liver. Your brain is fed by your liver and your movement is fueled by your muscles. Immediately after a riding or cross training session, your muscles and liver are looking for simple sugar to replenish your storage levels for the next workout. Your window of opportunity is 20-30 minutes after you finish because of an enzyme (glycogen synthase) that is at its highest activity level immediately following exercise. By consuming real food that is easily digestible is the key to optimum replenishment and recovery. Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for simple, real food recovery suggestions.
Protein: as you ride, race and cross train, you literally “tear” down your muscle tissue (this is the reason why you are sore and have swelling). Your muscles need amino acids to re-build themselves from the inside out. Inadequate protein/amino acid intake will result in residual soreness lasting more than a couple of days, decreases in performance and a delay in your overall recovery process. An easy way to ensure that you are getting enough high quality, easily digestible amino acids is to consume an all natural smoothie with egg whites, whey or rice protein added. I personally use Nutritionally Green’s Liquid Egg Whites and Nutritionally Green’s New Zealand Whey protein powder in all of my smoothies. If you are struggling with recovery or noticing a delay in your performance improvements, please email me directly (email@example.com) and I will help you develop a personalized nutritional program for free.
Hydration: on average, your body contains 96 pints of water (64 of these are found inside the body’s cells!). Your blood is 85% water, your brain is 75% water, and your muscles are 70% water – you can see the importance of water within your body. Additionally, water levels help your body manage internal heat through sweat and avoid the negative side effects of overheating (including heat stroke). The key to proper hydration is not drinking straight water because your body needs electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium) to absorb the water and create the proper body-fluid balance. [Note: if you drink excessive amounts of straight water you risk a condition known as hyponatremia associated with the dilution of the salt levels in your system.] The key to optimum fluid absorption is the concentration rate of carbohydrates and electrolytes in your sports drink; 5-6% has been clinically proven to be ideal. This concentration rate provides an optimal level of carbohydrate energy while maintaining the proper fluid balance; Nutritionally Green’s Energy Fuel has a 6% concentration rate and I use it personally along with my athletes.
Stretching is the best way to improve the range of motion power and endurance in a muscle. By increasing the range of motion of a muscle tissue you’re enabling the muscle within its normal range of motion without restriction. The removal of this restriction will allow a muscle to optimally contract and relax with less and less effort; resulting in less fatigue.
When stretching, you never want to push the tissue beyond that slight mode of tension that you feel in the belly of the tissue. There is a mechanism (golgi apparatus) found within each muscle spindle cell; this mechanism is designed to keep you from tearing the muscle in the belly of the tissue or by pulling the muscle’s attachment off of the bone.
How to stretch:
Step 1: isolate the muscle tissue
Step 2: take the muscle to its full range of motion without pain
Step 3: hold that position for 3 to 5 seconds taking one to two breathes
Step 4: as you exhale, slightly deepen the stretch (without pain)
Repeat then move to the next muscle
If you get to a point that you feel pain, you’re right on the verge of tearing the muscle which creates scar tissue (which is inelastic and will reduce your range of motion further). If you would like to receive a series of instructional videos on how to isolate and stretch the leg and hip muscles imperative to riding and racing, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you sleep at night your body releases a hormone called HGH (which stands for human growth hormone); when the body sleeps for 8 to 10 hours and at the deepest level of sleep (REM Pattern 3) it produces large amounts of HGH which will help the body recover more efficiently (along with make you leaner!) and make you stronger. A University of Chicago sleep study found that individuals who get too little sleep metabolize & store sugar less efficiently implying that sleep deprivation may impair performance when the body needs to tap into stored sugar (glycogen) for energy (riding & cross training). If you are struggling with sleeping deeply each night, please drop me an email (email@example.com) and I will forward to you some techniques to improve your quality and depth of sleep.
One of the simplest tools that you can use to reduce inflammation and speed up recovery is to let gravity be your friend. The goal is to get that body part above the heart allowing gravitational pull to bring the venous blood flow back to the heart with less effort. After a tough riding session or cross training workout, try to elevate your feet while you are lying or sitting down (prop up your feet with some pillows while watching television or sleeping).
Take an active approach to massaging the three layers of tissue in the body: top layer (skin), second layer (fascia) and the third layer (muscle & connective tissue). Use a Trigger Point Therapy ball to work into the small bony areas around the ankle, elbow, shoulder blades and arches of your feet. Use the Trigger Point Grid to work large muscle areas like your lower back, thighs, hamstrings and lower leg (shins). By stimulating the tissue with massage, the blood vessels open bringing oxygen & nutrient rich blood to the stimulated areas, helping speed up the recovery of stressed muscle tissue. If you would like to order a Trigger Point system, along with some instructional videos on how to use it specific to riding & racing, please e-mail me directly at Robb3@earthlink.net.
In addition to using the Trigger point ball for bony areas, I use the Arm-Aide soft tissue device specifically for the muscles of the forearm. This device works phenomenal with isolating and eliminating trigger points from the wrist area all the way up to the elbow which reduces muscle spasms and cramping frequently associated with arm pump. If you would like to order an Arm Aide, along with some instructional videos on how to use specific to riding & racing, please e-mail me at Robb3@earthlink.net.
Filling up a bathtub halfway with water and adding 2-5 pounds of ice will create the ultimate ice bath solution. By soaking for 5 to 10 minutes will cause vasoconstriction (shrinking) of the blood vessel which will help offset the body’s natural reaction known as inflammation & swelling; a byproduct of high intensity riding and cross training. After soaking in an ice bath, sit out for 5 to 10 minutes and allow the tissue to warm up gradually (you don’t want to apply heat here). Repeat the cold-air temp cycle 2 to 3 times.
A frequently asked question is whether ice or heat should be applied after a hard workout or race? A hot bath or shower may feel good; however, the moist heat creates more inflammation and swelling throughout the muscles and surrounding tissue slowing down your recovery process.