What are the best recovery methods for athletes?

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5 Best Methods To Improve Recovery

There are many different ways athletes and fitness enthusiasts can improve recovery. Consider the physical adaptation that occurs when we put our bodies under a lot of stress. We might be doing intense cardio work, lifting heavy, hypertrophy, or anything else that leads to physical adaptation from constant fatigue. Whatever it is, a focused recovery plan is essential.


That leads us to mobility. We might have some joints struggling to adapt or have scar tissue built up from previous issues. 


Next, there is a mental aspect of recovery. Athletes deal with mundane training and extreme pressure. Athletes that are not in a high profile sport have to balance things like external stress in life and how to handle training as a world-class athlete. High school athletes experience this as well.


Nutrition plays a role in multiple different recovery spheres. Food and supplement choices can affect joint recovery, mental outlook, and general mobility (either positively or negatively depending on your consumption choices). 


Let's look at the five best ways athletes can optimize their recovery.

1. Yoga

Execute 10 to 20 minutes of yoga 5x a week. I hear all the meatheads out there groaning and moaning. Get over it. Embrace yoga. Big, swole people need yoga the most.


Yoga drastically improves mobility. Improved mobility allows the muscle belly to be lengthened. Lengthening is strengthening. The body learns how to handle different positions in deeper ranges of motion which can enhance sports performance. Another key concept is yoga helps us be more in touch with how we are feeling in certain positions. We can take this feeling into our warm-ups.

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Think about the mental aspect as well. Almost all overtraining syndrome relates to mental focus and mental adaptation. Yoga forces the body to disconnect from the digital world and embrace who you are internally. It allows an athlete to get into a meditative state.

2. Meditation

Meditation is a catch-all phrase. A person can practice quiet sitting, mediation, or prayer. Depends on a personal outlook on the world. Call it whatever you want. Just separate yourself, sit quietly, and hollow out the mind.


Want to emulate the Dalai Lama? Go ahead and do it. Don’t want to do that? I recommend finding a place where the lights can be turned out, all external noise and distractions are turned off and just sit there for 30 minutes. It is way harder than people think. For the first 10 to 15 minutes thoughts are bouncing all over the place. As control is gained through specific intent, you’ll find you can quiet your thoughts through the thoughtful cognitive function.


Some people meditate when they first wake up, an hour before their workout, or post-workout. Whatever is best for you to engage with meditation for 4 to 5 days a week for thirty minutes is what needs to be done.

3. Sleep

As simple as it gets. Sleep. Please! Get to bed!


Don’t be playing video games or streaming that newest show until 2 AM having to wake up at 7:30 AM for work. Prioritize sleep!


An hour out before bed, flip the switch and start to quiet the brain. Meditate and then get ready for bed. Chill the room to 65 degrees, blackout curtains hanging from the windows, and all electronics far, far away.

recovery methods for athletes

One key thing that many people are missing regarding sleep hygiene is not seeing sunlight earlier in the day. Go outside around 7 or 8 AM to see the sun for thirty minutes to help set your circadian rhythm. This will improve your sleep. We want to get exposed to the sun again around noon to recover as well as possible. Eight to ten hours is ideal. A nap in the middle of the day for 15 to 30 minutes helps too.

4. Sauna

Alright, this one depends on access to a sauna. I think a traditional sauna is just fine. Research shows that lounging in a sauna 4 to 5 days a week at 170 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes can improve recovery and overall well-being. This happens because of the simulation of heat shock proteins. It enhances our sensitivity to heat and increases mitochondrial volume. 

wrestling strength and conditioning

The increase in mitochondrial volume helps with endurance. Using sprint intervals to enhance our mitochondrial respiration can be grown further with a higher mitochondrial volume. Not only does the sauna help with recovery, but it also improves endurance.


The time in the sauna is also a great time to disconnect and chill out to help with the mental game.

5. Nutrition

A lot of coaches take this one for granted. They believe their athletes are doing everything they should be doing but they are not. Nutritional improvement will help with recovery. 


Macros like carbs, fats, and proteins need to be understood. We want to try to get 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This can be from plant protein or animal-based protein. Protein can come from supplements like whey protein as well.

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Next, try to get a fair amount of carbohydrates that are microbiota accessible carbs, which are carbs digested in the colon. In turn, this will lead to more lean muscle mass and have the body feel better with digestion. Typically this type of carb is found in sources high in fiber. One rule of thumb for carbohydrate consumption is to have 1.5 to 2 grams of carbs per lbs. of body weight. 


Make sure to prioritize nutritional improvements by focusing on proteins and carbs. Make sure the carbohydrate sources are flourishing with microbiota-accessible carbs to help and improve recovery.

Recap

Face it, to recover from the adaptations occurring from the stimulus provided by training, we have to enhance our nutrition, improve our joint integrity, and improve our mental state of well-being. Protein and microbiota-accessible carbs help. Sitting in a sauna multiple times a week helps. Meditating multiple times a week helps. Doing yoga multiple times a week helps as well. And maybe the simplest and most obvious, sleep helps a lot as well.

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Yo, It's Dane

Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!

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