New and Improved Rest and Recovery Article
Life can be tiring enough without having to do 7 minutes of burpees. Once you add in CrossFit into your already hectic lifestyle, getting enough rest and recovery can be difficult. Some of you are training hard and living fast and while initially you see great results in the gym, your success often comes to a screeching halt. Why? You aren’t recovering properly. Genetic potential and age have huge affects on recovery, and while we can’t change those, your lifestyle also plays a significant part, so let’s look at a few common factors that affect recovery.
Diet is an obvious factor that we have discussed before (don’t worry, we’ll talk about it again too) So all I’m going to say for now is if your recovery or results are coming slow or not at all, jump on the Paleo/Primal or Zone bandwagon with the rest of us. *BONUS Fact* Paleo friendly foods such as fruits and veggies have an alkaline effect on your blood, keeping your blood pH from becoming too acidic, which will enhance recovery. Meat and dairy have a small acidic effect, the acidic effect of grains is quite large by comparison
Hydration is crucial for recovery. Drink AT LEAST one half your bodyweight in ounces of water per day. If you’re very strict Paleo you may need to add additional sodium (salt your food) to your diet if you’re having trouble staying hydrated. (Headaches, tiredness, poor performance and a general feeling of “blah” can be symptoms of dehydration) If you’re at the gym and you start to feel dizzy, nauseous and your face feels cold, clammy and looks pale rather than bright red and sweaty, you’re dehydrated.
Overtraining. You’re a stud, I get it. You’re not even sore and you’re pretty sure your judge under counted your burpee reps by 100 or so. Guess what, heavy lifting and intense activity is taxing on your nervous system as well as your muscles. Give your CNS a break and let it take time to recover.
Post Workout Recovery Tips
- Take a contrast shower. Warm up for a few minutes in the shower then crank the water to cold for 30 seconds. Repeat the cycle a few times (3-4). This is good for muscle recovery as well as lowering your temperature to prepare to sleep. I find that it helps to have a stopwatch or clock, otherwise 30 seconds becomes 10 seconds
- Ice baths- A more intense method for a more intense athlete. Stop by the gas station or grocery store on the way home from the gym and grab a few bags of ice. Get in and try to accumulate 20 minutes. Google health benefits for cold immersion and lots of things will come up. CrossFit Invoke’s annual Polar Bear Plunge Raleigh Edition isn’t just for Funsies you know.
- Cryotherapy- grab some ice (or frozen meat or veggies) and stick it on the affected area for 20 minutes. Wrap the ice in a towel or thin cloth rather than applying directly to the skin. You can freeze some water in a styrofoam or plastic cup, rip away the top so a few inches of ice are exposed and give yourself an active ice massage. You can also buy these, try searching “Cryocup” or something similar
- Epson Salt Baths- 10-20 minutes in a hot bath with 200-400 grams of epson salt can help increase blood flow to your muscles, reduce inflammation and increase cellular magnesium levels, which assists with muscle relaxation (and sleeping! See below for more)
- Mobility, Massage, Meditation, Yoga- Any and/or all of these will help. Foam Roll and stretch. This is great after showers or ice baths. Check with Elizabeth or Mitchell for more tips here. Michele over at Vannity Salon is a great CrossFit Athlete and massage therapist. The salon is so close to downtown Raleigh you can almost walk.
Sleep. This is the big one most of us are missing. Almost every health authority out there recommends AT LEAST 9 hours of sleep per night. Not getting enough sleep wrecks your body and the hormones that control it. Specifically cortisol and insulin levels spike through the roof. Effects of sleep deprivation are cumulative, so one night of extra sleep often doesn’t fix the problems. Wonder why your abs look better when you sleep in on Sunday? Just two nights in a row of getting 9.5 hours of sleep can cause a 5% shift in weight and reduction in belly fat due to the decreases in insulin and cortisol. Sleep deprivation also leads to decreases in estrogen and testosterone. Sleeping more returns those hormones to their more youthful levels, which carries a host of benefits. Also, if you can or feel its needed, take a NAP!
It’s possible you just can’t get more sleep, so at least get better sleep. Here are some tips.
- Total darkness. Cover alarm clocks, windows, any source of light and you will get much better sleep.
- Go to bed at the same time every day. This helps your circadian rhythm stay in tune and keeps your sleep cycles more consistent.
- Take your multivitamin after dinner or an hour before bed. Specifically Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin C help with sleep.
- Take a contrast shower. Warm up for a few minutes in the shower then crank the water to cold for 30 seconds. Repeat the cycle a few times. This is good for muscle recovery as well as lowering your temperature to prepare to sleep.
5 Push Press/Jerks 135/95
12 Back Squats