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One of the most under-emphasized performance training strategies (right up there with performance nutrition) is RECOVERY.  Many of the strategies listed below are from a lecture that Dr. Michael Twyman presented to our team last week.  The full video is available at the link below if you want get introduced to some easy to implement concepts.  It is important to note that we consider these strategies beneficial to our adult clients as well as our athletes.  Emotional stress and physical stress have many of the same impacts on our bodies, these strategies will work well for all stressors placed on the body.  For our student athletes, these tips will be super important for those of you going in-season.  For our adult corporate athletes, we have no off-season, so these tips are immensely important to incorporate year-round.
A very important equation:  Stress + Rest = Growth.  Keep this in mind and we will return to this thought.

  1. SLEEP– we American’s have forgotten how important sleep is to aid in our recovery from workouts and to improve our health. We use technology in bed, exposing us to blue light which will delay the release of an important hormone- melatonin.  What to do:
    1. Limit exposure to blue light 2-3 hours before bedtime.
    2. Do not allow technology in your bedroom.
    3. If you must keep your phone or tablet nearby for work- change your screen settings to sunset to sunrise and turn your screen coloring to warm (more yellow and less blue)
      1. Settings; display and brightness; night shift, sunset to sunrise and color temperature to warmer.
    4. Teenagers need between 10-12 hours of sleep. Adults 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
    5. Sleep in cool, dark bedrooms.
    6. The best athletes in the world prioritize their sleep as much as their training. There should be no guilt associated with prioritizing recovery- treat it as important as a workout.
    7. Our youth should be limited to no more than 2 hours of screen time per day.
  2. RECOVERY DAYS–   a day off each week is warranted from training and practice, especially in-season.  Recovery is also required from work.  How do you know what is the best day to use for recovery?  Stack heavy bouts of exercise or stress followed by a day of recovery.   Recovery doesn’t mean lie on the couch all day- you can do something active that you enjoy in a relaxing manner.  No training, no practice.  Do something else that you enjoy and laugh while you do it.  Watch the video below to learn about heart rate variability– a developing science which can tell us if the day should be a hard or easy workout day, or if it needs to be a full recovery day.  Too many of us are muscling through extremely challenging workouts when our bodies haven’t recovered from the last one.
  3. LEARN TO BREATH CORRECTLY– with a meditative mindset (clear, relaxed, non-cluttered mind) find a comfortable, quiet place to sit.  Inhale through your nose, hold for a four count, and exhale through your mouth.  Do this for 5-10 breathes.  You can use this breathing technique to set your mind, calm your nerves (before a meeting or on the mound between pitches).
  4. PERFORMANCE NUTRITION- nutrition and sleep are probably the two most underrated recovery and growth strategies. Without both, hard training is basically wasted, or at the very least, it isn’t realized to its fullest potential.  For in-season athletes, maintaining your weight is critical and fueling every day is key.  Do not skip breakfast- ever, even if you have an a.m. meeting or early tournament game.  The best strategy here is to get a plan.  Meet with a registered dietitian to lay out a nutrition fueling strategy that you like, can adhere to and fits your bodies unique needs.  Hydration during the upcoming spring and summer will also impact your performance and recovery.  Learn the signs of dehydration and avoid this pitfall.  Thirst is a poor indicator of hydration status- it is a delayed response.
  5. TRAIN SMART– in-season training should be short bouts after practices- 30-40 minute total body workouts.  Do not incorporate new exercises, exercises that induce soreness (such as negatives) and we’d prefer that you do not go to failure stopping 1-2 reps shy of this phenomenon when your muscles can no longer move the load.  Failure is very taxing on the central nervous system and will further stress an athlete during a high-volume time of year.  Going to failure is unnecessary to maintain strength and will only push us toward being overtrained which makes recovery more and more difficult.  For our corporate athletes during heavy periods of stress, take a 20-minute walk outside when you get home- it will destress your body in unfathomable ways.
  6. CONDITION SPECIFIC TO YOUR GOAL– if you are a triathlete don’t expend your energy doing metabolic workouts- focus on your baseline strength and corrective exercises to prevent injury and spend the rest of your time training in your sports.  Overtraining is common in marathoners and triathletes because they simply do too much and often eliciting the incorrect training response for their given activity.  Our power-based athletes, such as baseball, do not need to run 5 miles, in fact, they shouldn’t- we aren’t training the right systems to benefit our sport and are just layering on more stress.

In our world stress is stress- whether physical or mental and everybody is an athlete.  So, we pull strategies that work for our adults and teach them to our student athletes and visa versa.  These tips are inspired by a book titled Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg ad Steve Magness and summarize some of Dr. Michael Twyman’s thoughts from the lecture below.
We look forward to introducing more recovery strategies and quick solutions in upcoming blog articles.  In closing, rethink the following equation:  STRESS + REST = GROWTH.  Are you balancing stress and rest enough to achieve growth?  If not, what can you do today to get starting improving your recovery?
Yours in Health, Dale

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