by Lewis Elliot
With almost all physical training, the body breaks down before it becomes stronger. Through good sleep, healthy nutrition, hydration, and proper recovery techniques, positive gains are made.
It’s almost overwhelming how many new recovery options now exist -- many are exotic and expensive. Things like recovery boots, the Theragun, cryotherapy, chiropractic services and massages, elevated oxygen chambers, and sports massages are all options available. These methods can be incredibly beneficial, at both helping you recover and quickly draining your bank account.
Two tried and true methods of sports recovery that I strongly believe in are both easy and accessible to most people. They include vertically elevating your legs on the wall post-workout, and cold soaks in either a tub or a natural body of water.
The elevation exercise uses gravity to drain the toxins out of your tired legs. To perform the leg-elevating method, ideally put compression socks on and place your legs vertically on the wall while moving your tailbone as close to the wall as you can, while keeping the legs straight. The closer you get, the more vertical your legs will be and the deeper hamstring stretch you’ll also benefit from, which is an added bonus. Start with two sets of five minutes of this stretch, and increase the time up to two sets of 15 minutes as the movement becomes more normal for you.
The cold therapy is fairly self-explanatory, and also incredibly helpful. Look for water in the 40 to 60 degree range, and try to submerge yourself for five to 10 minutes up to your waistline. Many unheated outdoor home pools are around this temperature in Arizona during the winter. Streams and creeks in the mountains also are on the low end of this temperature. Add additional time as you become more comfortable with this method, working your way up to 20 minutes.
It’s important to let your body heat itself after you take part in cold therapy by drying off and putting clothes on, or doing a light activity. This forced warming promotes blood flow and can really help with recovery. As an added benefit, it will also quickly drop your core temperature on warmer training days.
The more recovery methods you employ, the more quickly you’ll improve. These two are particularly accessible and fairly easy to execute. Try them for yourself, and you’ll find yourself ready to work harder again much sooner than expected.
Lewis Elliot is a Scottsdale resident and professional triathlete. The avid hiker, skier and mountain biker was born and raised in Montana. In 2012, his first book, “7 Weeks to a Triathlon,” was published. He is one of the founding members of the Komen Tri For The Cure and the Tri-Scottsdale Foundation. The former U.S. National Team Cyclist can be reached at email@example.com.