These days it seems like everyone is training like an athlete, but most of us are missing a crucial (and maybe the best) piece of the puzzle, making us less Serena Williams and more, well, injured. It turns out, recovery is just as important in training, so next time you CBF with that HIIT class or it feel your results have plateaued, skip the workout and book in for a recovery sesh instead. Yes, you just got permission to chill.
Here are 8 of the best training recovery hacks that you’ll want to try out.
You may feel like Eleven from Stranger Things as you step into your first tank, but we guarantee you, this sensory deprivation method will make you feel calmer than you can even begin to imagine, and soon enough you’ll be in a state of seriously deep relaxation. But it’s not all just relaxation and bliss, floating has been proven as a stellar pain reduction method! Thanks to the Epsom salt laden water, you’ll float (duh), taking a huge load off your poor muscles, plus, you’ll absorb the magnesium which flushes out all the nasty lactic acid you accumulate from smashing out a sweat session.
Ditch the visuals of wrinkly old men in white towels, these days we are all about the infrared sauna situation. The 40-60° heat—which feels just like sunlight minus the whole sunburn side effect—from the infrared panels increases your core temperature and boosts circulation. As the sauna does its job soothing tired muscles and decreasing inflammation, the increased blood flow flushes out unwanted toxins, all while improving flexibility. At the same time, the heat helps to relieve tension and lowers cortisol—the pesky stress hormone—so you’ll be high on relaxation vibes.
It may be daunting to step into a sub-zero chamber to flash freeze yourself for three minutes, but the hype around these next gen “ice-baths” proves it to be the latest cure-all recovery method. With the blast of arctic cold increasing your level of anti-inflammatory hormones, swelling and pain are instantly relieved and you’ll be so cold your nervous system rewires itself to change the perception of pain itself—cool indeed. Post chill you’ll be rewarded with waves of endorphins, a sneaky collagen boost, stronger immunity and laser-focused mental clarity. Oh, and don’t forget the best part, cryotherapy is a cheeky metabolism booster and it’s said you can burn up to 800 calories in the eight hours after!
We love a massage, but generally the only time we are getting oiled up is on our Bali vacays. Back home, if you’re feeling stiff as a board and limping in pain, you better be booking in a bodywork session, pronto. Those juicy massage strokes help with circulation, flooding oxygen and all the good stuff to your tired muscles, so the body can repair itself, before moving lactic acid so you can get rid of those nasty toxins. As you say goodbye to all those tight knots and overworked creaks, your flexibility and movement will rally and in the state of deep relaxation you’ll be in, chances are you could fall asleep right on the treatment bed!
With everyone from the yogiss to the highest paid athletes (that’s right, Lebron James) doing it, let’s be clear, meditation is one of the best—and cheapest!—tools you have for recovery. Calming down the mind and heart rate, while getting the body to chill the F out, a medi sesh will reward you with a relaxed nervous system to boost healing, enhance mental clarity and give you a winning chance for better night’s sleep! Excuse us while we go find our zen…
Trigger Point Release
Those people you see foam rolling on the outskirts of gyms make look cray, but they are actually onto a good thing. Working on the fascial layer, which is kinda like a sausage casing around your muscles, trigger point therapy releases the super painful tight knots (AKA trigger points) that form from too much stress or repetitive strain. How to? Grab a roller and gently roll along a limb with your bodyweight until you find the spot that makes you go “Ouch!”. Hold and breathe into the pressure until the tension dissipates, then move on. With time you’ll loosen off that fascia, become more mobile and decrease the chances of getting benched with a more serious injury.
We * know * we really ought to stretch after we sweat, but then, life gets busy again and we’re already late for the next thing on our schedule. It’s time to get back to the mat though because stretching is one of the easiest recovery hacks around. The focused attention on elongating your muscles decreases muscle stiffness and increases the range of motion in your stiff joints. At the same time, circulation will improve as oxygen streams down to the muscles and reduces your stress levels. Our top insider tip, don’t just save stretching for the cooldown, get extra recovery brownie points by using dynamic stretches as your warm up!
So you might look completely insane, but these compression devices blow the roof of any benefits you get from those ‘hard to wriggle into’ compression tights. After you insert your limbs into large parachute like sleeves, the technical gear begins to compress the muscles by pumping in compressed air, massaging the muscles and fighting inflammation. Soon after begins a pulsing—which squeezes the lactic acid out of the muscles—and the target area is replenished with fresh blood, stimulating recovery! Said to increase your recovery time and reduce soreness or swelling, you’ll have to try and squeeze in a session soon!
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Image credit: Daryl Kong