Recovery Strategies for Better Performance
Today, because I’m currently on a blogcation (in Florida) and most likely lying poolside in a state of food coma rocking the world’s greatest farmer’s tan, we have a guest post from Geoff Pritchard. Geoff is a personal trainer and massage therapist located in Maryland I had the pleasure of meeting a few months ago when he stopped by Cressey Performance to check us out.
He’s a very bright guy and obviously has a passion for what he does, so I hope you enjoy his contribution!
As readers of Tony’s blog, I know that you’re familiar with the best exercises and programs to use when you get to the gym. You may internally debate about whether today’s routine should include goblet squats or Pallof press squats (Tony’s invention?!), but you’re anxious to get there and put in your best effort. But, once you leave the gym sweaty and exhausted, what effort do you put into your recovery and regeneration strategy?
There have always been ways to handle your post-battle aches and pains. The ancient gladiators of Greece and Rome soaked in salt baths and received “rubbing” (massage) as forms of healing. The warriors and women may not have looked as glamorous as on STARZ Spartacus, but the concept of intense fighting/strength training followed by recovery is not new.
Fortunately, your strategy doesn’t need anything expensive or time consuming to be effective. It really comes down to a few key things:
- Review the foundational things you should do to achieve better performance
- Evaluate the research and methods of other fitness and bodywork professionals, and
- Incorporate simple changes into your schedule
Build a Solid Foundation
I have spent the last seven years engaged in personal training and massage therapy and recently operated my own massage business in Boston. As a certified bodyworker, I am constantly listening to complaints of muscular pain… followed by crickets chirping when I ask about what the client does to rest and refuel each day. Too often I end up being the 1-hour of downtime per week that the person gives himself or herself to heal. Without the therapeutic massage I provide, the client has nothing to report that they intentionally do to balance the scales. Missing from their response are ways to actively take a break and recharge. The two easiest things to conquer are:
1 – Eating Well (Enough) – For the majority of people, the goal is to maintain a balanced diet and avoid the nasty ingredients (high fructose corn syrup, excessive sugar, etc) and increase protein, water and vegetable consumption. If you haven’t tackled your diet, make some immediate changes to get your food and caloric intake under control. Remember, food = fuel. You can even refer to the inside of Tony’s fridge for some assistance.
2 – Get 8-Hours of Sleep – We can argue the amount of sleep necessary for each person to “function” during the day. But, the level of your performance – physical and mental – is directly proportional to the amount of sleep you get at night. I’m certain I could give Tiger a run for his money on the golf course if we kept him without sleeping the night before!
Determine Your Recovery Path
Advice from Fitness Professional Nick Grantham
One of the best models for improved performance comes from the research of Nick Grantham of England. I first heard Nick speak on the Strength Coach Podcast in April of 2011 (episode 78). He and his team have spent a lot of time formulating a Recovery and Regeneration pyramid to help us achieve better results. The Level 1 and 2 strategies are where most of us should concentrate our work.
The Level 1 ideas we just covered, but the Level 2 strategies should also be analyzed. Their pyramid shows that ongoing monitoring is essential for performance. Therefore, they have their athletes report back to them about their sleep, nutrition, and daily habits away from the field. What trends do you see in performance as it relates to everyday habits? Monitor yourself and see the impact that proper recovery and regeneration can have in practice or competition.
If you’re a member at StrengthCoach.com, you can reference the remainder of Nick’s research in a 22-page PDF. Log in and search ‘Grantham’.
Advice from Bodywork Professional Sue Hitzmann
If you want something more specific, you should consider progressing your self-myofascial techniques by following the work of Sue Hitzmann. I recently had the opportunity to attend her M.E.L.T. method workshop and appreciated how she took a tedious activity (foam rolling) and re-invented it as a routine with more specificity. And, after class, I asked her how it relates to the general weight lifting audience. Here’s her response:
“As for weight lifting, MELT isn’t myofascial release. I know I use a roller and balls but the technique is what’s compelling. It’s a very specific treatment and the ball sizes and the roller density is specific to the treatment. For weight lifting, MELT offers a reduction in stress injuries and improves grip, muscle timing and sustainability through their high movement demands.”
If you live in New York City, you can have direct access to Sue herself, but otherwise you can search her website for one of the over 300 therapists she has trained in the M.E.L.T. Method.
However, if you really can’t decide on the recovery option that’s best for you, find some bolsters and/or blankets and use this yoga pose – appropriately called Restorative Bridge.
Follow the directions for proper setup here. If this doesn’t put you immediately into a state of relaxation and meditation, nothing will!
Schedule Your Daily, Weekly, and Yearly R&R
I’ve had the privilege of sharing this information because Tony is on vacation. My theory is that he’s actually doing a photo shoot on South Beach for the website…complete with sun hat, Speedo, and SPF-90.
Note from TG: ^^^^ Busted! The man speaks truth!
I know however that Tony is an uber-trainer and realizes the importance of spending time outside the gym and recharging, so he can achieve his training goals and personal goals for 2012. Find what ideas work for you and schedule it into your routine.
For me, every moment I can spend enjoying time with my wife and 2-year-old son is awesome. I enjoy the gym –always have and always will – but the recovery and regeneration is for my family. If I get injured, then I lose the quality time I love spending with them.
Go hydrate… Get some sleep… And give your recovery strategy more attention!
Geoff Pritchard is an NSCA certified personal trainer and a licensed massage therapist. He has seven years of training experience at gyms, health clubs, and corporate wellness centers. His passion to help people build their lives around healthy habits led him to create Move Free Massage and Fitness in 2008. He recently moved with his family to Baltimore, MD and is excited about the dynamic fitness community in the Timonium and Towson areas. If you want to contact him, please connect with Geoff on Facebook.