From pro athletes to weekend warriors, training hard is a strong part of the culture of competition. If you want to improve, you train hard, so your body and mind can adapt.
But what if your gains are being stolen and part of that hard work is being wasted?
In a lot of cases, it is if you aren’t managing your recovery for fitness.
Stress Can Hold You Back
Among coaches in the world of elite sports, many know that a player that is too stressed won’t recover. Physically or mentally. This means so much of the time and energy put into practice and training end up wasted.
Just as an athlete has a training program, they also have a recovery program. It’s based on individual profiles and coordinated with training and competition. Its not static either and often changes through the season, month or even week to week.
Sport science backs this as well. A 2012 study in the respected journal, Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise, demonstrated that psychological stress from life reduced recovery of muscle function.
In 2014 the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research published a paper showing that the more a subject experienced stress, the worse their recovery. In this study participants with more stress had worse recovery of muscle function, as well as how their body felt.
This is not exactly what you are going for in your training.
Measure and Manage
Today in elite sports, teams have a sport science and/or recovery staff dedicated to this. In many, systems are used to measure the player’s status on a daily or weekly basis. One of the most advanced is called Omegawave and has a history of several decodes in settings like Olympic teams and military special forces.
Systems like this provide information tells you about your recovery through both the autonomic and central nervous systems. It provides feedback on your level of recovery and how much “adaptation potential” your body has.
In other cases, good old fashioned self-reports provide a lot of insight. Usually, in apps or online, players can rate how they feel and are performing in various measures. Although relatively simple, if the questions are right, they can be incredibly helpful and scientifically valid feedback.
What can you do to get the most benefit from your training? The first step is to recognize that recovery is an important part of the training process. The training is the stimulus, but adaptation happens during recovery.
The next is to learn how you are adapting. Whether it’s getting Omegawave readings or just a self report, you need to start evaluating how you recover. Guidance from a knowledgeable performance coach or recovery specialist can guide you to the recovery methods that are best for you.
Measure your recovery, manage the process, and stop having your fitness gains stolen.
J Strength Cond Res. 2014 Jul;28(7):2007-17.
Chronic psychological stress impairs recovery of muscular function and somatic sensations over a 96-hour period.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Nov;44(11):2220-7.
Psychological stress impairs short-term muscular recovery from resistance exercise.
Part of being a fit soccer player is being prepared to perform at 100 percent. Making sure you take care of recovery will ensure your hard work does not go to waste. For faster recovery between soccer games, you need a solid recovery plan.
A recovery plan means you will be able to train harder, maintain peak performance longer and prevent injury. Don’t fall into a common trap, recovery is not only rest. Recovery is the work you do after you play to prepare yourself for your next challenge. When done right, it gives your body the edge to perform better, for longer.
Great recovery equals optimal performance potential. That means you can be your best when you are ready to compete. There are different types of recovery for athletes and here’s a checklist with some of the key strategies to use between games.
Soccer Recovery Checklist
Recovery begins as soon as your workout ends. Start with a recovery shake within 15-20 minutes to replenish your energy stores. A good shake will have carbohydrates and rebuild your damaged tissue with protein.
Don’t make a mistake and skip the carbs. Soccer players expend a lot of energy during a game covering the field. You need to refill your energy stores with carbs for the next game.
If you just go and sit down on the field, or in the car on the way home you are hurting yourself. You haven’t given your muscles a chance to move fresh blood and pump out the waste products.
Spend 7 – 10 minutes with a light jog after the game or practice. By working at a low intensity you will clear metabolic waste accumulated in your muscles.
When you get home, spend 5-10 minutes focusing on resetting your muscle tissue. This can include foam rolling and trigger point work on target areas and massage. The front of the thighs and calf muscles, along with the bottom of your foot are good targets.
After you reset the muscle tissue, you have to mobilize it so it stays supple and recovers quickly. Techniques can include active isolated stretching, yoga or band stretching. Make sure to focus on the lower leg and hip flexors. They are areas that get stressed by the kicking and sprinting during a soccer game.
Sitting immersed in water can do some great things for recovery. The most common question for immersion is hot or cold? The answer depends on the timing of your next bout of training.
If you’re not training again until the next day, go hot (hot tub, Epsom salt bath). If you’re training again within the same day, go cold (ice tub, 10-12 minutes).
One of the most important parts of recovery is the ability to shut down. It’s easy to get fired up, but the best soccer athletes can power down just as quickly. Meditation, deep breathing and massage are all techniques to help bring you back down, and let your body do its work rebuilding.
Around the globe, in every religion, spiritual tradition, and culture, we find some form of meditation. Breathing practices, purposeful reflection, chanting, mantras, singing, and prayer are some of the oldest forms of improving mindset, wellness, and performance through meditation.
Whether your goal is to achieve calm, a sense of gratitude, or feeling connected to people and nature, these disciplines can help us live a more centered life. In the world of human performance, when someone is really “in the zone,” we like to call it a “flow state.” When we are there, we perceive things differently actually process information in a different way.
In order to avail yourself of the many benefits of meditation, we believe it’s important to remain intellectually and emotionally open. Open-minded, to the wide variety of meditative practices found throughout our world’s cultures, religions, and philosophies. What is important is that the methods you choose work for you.
Whether or not you consider yourself spiritual or religious, improving your meditative skills teaches you how to control your brain and mindset to reach a state of higher performance.
How does one begin?
This is a beginner’s guide to practical ways for accessing a better state of mind and will highlight some of the benefits they offer.
Your Analytical vs. Intuitive Mind
Once people become adults, they spend a lot of time walking around with their brains in an analytical mode: making choices, solving problems, working, thinking about the future, and analyzing the past.
This is an incredible gift that has helped our species thrive and discover amazing things, but it is not the entire picture of ourselves. Our mind is also capable of incredible creativity, empathy, and connection to purpose and other people. This is also a skill we need to build and use daily.
Analytical thinking blocks emotion and empathy and vice versa, according to some recent studies [1,2]. You can think of your brain as having two modes: the rational, analytical mind, and the creative, intuitive one. When we function optimally, we are able to switch back and forth between them.
Rational thinking is necessary. We accomplish a lot of things in our lives through it. However, we can lose balance when it’s the only mode we are using.
In modern society, we subject ourselves to an increasing level of information input. News, social media, texts, streaming shows, and the web provide a constant stream of input for our analytical mind to process.
Because this endless stream of stimuli is always available for our mind to analyze, it’s essential to actively practice turning off our analytical processes. Quieting your analytical mind opens you up to a performance-enhancing mindset. Here are a few ways to do that.
Being able to alter your state of mind is an immensely powerful skill. As an athlete, performing artist, executive, or anyone who has to perform under pressure, you need to be able to reset occasionally.
When the stress builds, when the conditions change, or when things go wrong, being able to step back and out of the chaos is critical for good decision making. Retaining a sense of calm allows you to tap into your strengths, instincts, and training.
It’s also a valuable switch when the game is over when you’re done with work, or after practice. We all need to go into recovery mode.
Just as you don’t want the engine on your high-performance sports car revving at 5,000 rpm when you put it in the garage at night, you don’t want your brain stuck in analytical mode or your emotions on high when it’s time to relax and rest.
Meditation may be the most well-known way to silence the mind. It doesn’t require a special place or any equipment other than your own time and mind. It doesn’t even have in any particular manner.
Meditation allows you to tap into a state of calm. Turning off (or just down) the thoughts running through your head increases creativity , reduces stress and anxiety, and increases one’s sense of happiness .
These effects are magnified with practice, and you can practice any time, anywhere, for free.
Here are two simple ways to meditate:
Sit, close your eyes, and inhale deeply into your belly for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, slowly exhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of four. Repeat. Focus on the sensation of your breath filling your body and then emptying out. Observation. Sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, take a step back from your mind, and watch your thoughts. Don’t judge them or pursue them; simply let them come and go as you watch. There are two distinct entities here: you, the calm watcher, and your mind, the source of your thoughts.
Try these, or do whatever gives you that inner sense of calm. When you notice your mind wandering, simply return to your mind to the meditation. You might do just 2-5 minutes to start. You might build to longer stretches. Most importantly, do it consistently and you’ll strengthen your meditation muscles.
You must resist the temptation to do it the “right way.” This idea deters many beginners because they aren’t sure if they are doing it “right.” Meditation is challenging in that sense because it’s not the type of activity that provides immediate, concrete feedback. Getting guidance from a coach or in performing a specific form of the practice can help. So can some modern technologies.
If you go a traditional route to master meditation, you might spend hour after hour, month after month, year after year, sitting at a monastery meditating. You can take a long, meandering path, meditating daily for 20 to 40 years, finally becoming a Zen master. It’s a long, slow process that demands extraordinary dedication.
Whether this would be beneficial is beyond the point; it is neither feasible or desirable for most of us. Still, many people are looking for a way to incorporate meditation into their lives and want to get feedback along the way.
This is where modern technology like Muse can come in. The system measures your brainwaves while you meditate and provides feedback in real-time through the sounds you hear. This feedback teaches you to rewire your brain faster because you are learning when your brain is actually in the right state.
It also “gamifies” the process. At the end of each session, you get scores on how well you did and points for having a calm mind. You get credit for “recoveries” when your mind started to wander and think but you brought it back to calm.
It also can help you keep on track session to session. Goals, recommendations to increase time, rewards for consistency and daily streaks, and the tracking functions all can help you state motivated to practice.
Other Way To Develop Your Skills
As you try to build your skills and use meditation to improve performance, here are a few more Methods that can help.
Heart Rate Variability Training
Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a method of measuring and analyzing beat-to-beat changes in your heart rate that gives us insight into the state of your autonomic nervous system. This feedback can be used when learning how to use meditation for your performance.
The autonomic nervous system is important to understand because it is one of the bridges between body and mind. It has two parts: the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches, which are essentially opposites.
The sympathetic nervous system is often described as the “fight or flight” system. It activates our body, mind, and the resources to act quickly when needed. The parasympathetic nervous system handles the opposite functions of rest, digest, and recovery: the functions that help restore and sustain our bodies.
HRV feedback teaches you to consciously synchronize your brainwaves and heartbeat, which puts you into a parasympathetic (recovery) dominant state. This is a state of calm focus. It’s the same benefit you get from meditation, but HRV training gives you real-time feedback, so you know when you’re improving.
You can train your heart rate variability and track your results with an HRV sensor like the Inner Balance or Em Wave2 from HeartMath. This feedback helps you to recognize that feeling of inner calm and achieve that state of mind more quickly than you would with normal meditation.
Sensory deprivation tanks also called float tanks, eliminate nearly all sensory input to your brain. Suspended in water with more than 1000 lbs. of dissolved magnesium salt, you float without any pressure on your body. You’re in a light- and sound-proof chamber. The water and air are both maintained at your body temperature.
When you lay still, you don’t see, hear, or feel anything. You lose the sense of time. Deprived of any sensory input, you are presented with an opportunity to be one with one’s mind that is difficult to find elsewhere.
A typical float session is 60 – 90 minutes long. For many people that sounds like an eternity to just lay there, floating in the dark. It typically takes three sessions to really get “good” at floating, but the results are usually enjoyed immediately the first time.
This doesn’t mean it is always easy. Often your mind wanders at first. You may have thoughts like: This is boring. This is stupid. Get out. You feel claustrophobic. But if you stick it out, eventually your mind lets go.
This lets us experience a state of calm, of relaxation. For some people, they experience a state of creativity or hover somewhere between wake and sleep. Not only will you reap the rewards after the float, but most people also find that they sleep better afterward and the state of calmness is easier to reach in the following days.
Next to time you want to accelerate your mindfulness practice, or need to reduce stress and anxiety, try a float. In most major cities you can find a float center near you.
Try something and practice it
When it comes to meditation for performance improvement; try something.
Whether you’re meditating, praying, chanting, getting feedback or floating in salt water, it’s worth it to learn how to quiet your mind. It only takes a few minutes a day and the benefits to your health, wellness, and performance are huge.
There are many factors that can affect your sleep quality and quantity. Regardless of the cause, every sleepless night takes a toll on your body and mind and can seriously throw off your game.
Here are four common reasons you might not be getting enough zzz’s and how to fix them.
1. YOUR MINDSET
The Problem: Often, those of us who have trouble sleeping can chalk it up to having too much on our minds. Information overload and an endless list of seemingly urgent tasks plague many people.
Kenny Kallen is a Performance Coach at our Redondo Beach facility who specializes in working with individuals trying to optimize their performance. He says it’s all too common that when “we finally get into bed and turn out the lights, we often find they are already thinking about what we have to do tomorrow, or what we should have done differently today! To make matters worse, we stare at the clock thinking ‘even if I fall asleep now, I will only get X hours of sleep!’”
The solution: The key here is to reduce your anxiety by calming your mind. This helps move your body into the parasympathetic state it requires to rest and recover. Coach Kallen suggests that “breathing can help you get into a more relaxed state. It’s very powerful because it creates both a physiological and psychological response. I recommend an exercise called ‘box breathing.’ Inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold with breath exhaled for four seconds. Repeat this cycle 10 times, and take note of whether you feel more relaxed from when you started.”
The problem: You know caffeine is a stimulant, but you may not realize how long its effects last.
Some people also should avoid spicy foods and meals high in fat or sugar before bedtime. These can elevate heart rate or cause digestive issues that will keep you awake.
The solution: Check your caffeine intake. How much are you getting, and when (tea and many fitness drinks can be an unassuming culprit)?
“Try to restrict your coffee intake to the morning and drinking more water throughout the day,” says Kallen.
3. YOUR PHONE, TABLET AND COMPUTER
The problem: Everywhere you look experts tell you to unplug before bed.
The blue light emitted by screens can really impact your brain: it signals the brain and impairs its ability to produce melatonin which helps induce sleep.
The solution: Make it a point to unplug 30 – 60 minutes before bedtime. If your phone or tablet has a “nighttime” setting that changes the screen tone from blue to more reddish, warm tones at night can also help. When your device doesn’t have this option, look to see if you can download an app that will do it for you.
To create a sleep sanctuary in your bedroom, replace your bulbs with ones that filter out blue light and emit a softer glow.
4. YOUR BEDROOM
The problem: It’s probably not a news flash that your environment affects your sleep. Too much light, noise, and heat are all factors that can disrupt your sleep. Try to not have a clock or any lights visible that might draw your attention.
The solution: Ideally, your bedroom would be designed to be a sleep sanctuary. Make sure your curtains block out all light, and buy a quality mattress and pillow to assist your sleep.
Sound can also be a problem. While you can’t move your house or change your neighbors, you can do your best to create a place that feels restful to you that you only use for sleeping.
If you are having problems sleeping, go on the offensive. A lack of sleep impacts your performance in all aspects of life.
Instead of leaving it to chance, look to fix these things that may be getting in the way.
The term “muscle pliability” has been in the news around the NFL quite a bit. Tom Brady and his trainer, Alex Guerrero, claim that making muscles pliable is the best way to sustain health and performance. How true is that claim? While it’s a great descriptive term, we are going to shed some light on what it really means and how to create muscle pliability.
Our performance coaches, sports medicine specialists, and tissue therapists all find it to be a useful term. Pliable expresses some of the important qualities of muscle. According to Miriam-Webster Dictionary here’s what pliable means:
a: supple enough to bend freely or repeatedly without breaking
b: yielding readily to others
c: adjustable to varying conditions
That’s a pretty good description for many of the qualities we want in the tissue of an athlete (or any human for that matter). The problem is that it’s being mixed up with a lot of inaccurate and confusing statements.
Our Sports Medicine Specialist, Misao Tanioka, says that “the word pliability, in my opinion, depicts the ideal muscle tissue quality. It is similar to suppleness, elasticity, or resilience. Unfortunately, I believe some of the explanations offered by Mr. Brady and Mr. Guerrero have created some misunderstanding of what ‘muscle pliability’ really is.”
Let’s try and separate some of the myths from what is true.
Myth 1: Muscles that are “soft” are better than dense
That depends on what qualifies as “soft” muscle. Tissue Specialist Cindy Vick has worked on hundreds of elite athletes, including NFL players and Olympians across many sports. “Soft isn’t a word I would use for an athlete. When I’m working on an elderly client, I often feel muscles that could be called soft; they’re not dense. That’s not what I feel when working on elite athletes. Athletes who are healthy and performing well have muscles that have density without being overly tense and move freely. The tissue is still smooth and supple.”
This muscle quality is affected by many factors, ranging from stress, competition, nutrition, training, and recovery. At Velocity, maintaining optimal tissue quality is a constant endeavor. Proper self-myofascial release, various stretching techniques, and manual therapy are all part of the equation.
Relating these terms in this way grossly over-simplifies reality and is in some ways completely wrong.
You have to start with the operative word: “dense.” Tanioka says, “Dense tissue can be elastic; elastic tissue is resilient to injury. What we have to look for is inelastic tissue.” Cindy Vick adds that “if you mean ‘dense’ to refer to a muscle with adhesions, or that doesn’t move evenly and smoothly, then yes, that’s a problem.”
Scientifically, stiffness refers to how much a muscle resists stretch under tension. It’s like thinking about the elastic qualities of a rubber band. The harder it is to pull, the stiffer it is. If a muscle can’t give and stretch when it needs to, that’s bad.
Imagine a rubber band that protects your joint. When a muscle exerts a force against the impact of an opponent or gravity, stiffness can help resist the joint and ligaments from being overloaded and consequently injured.
“I agree with Mr. Brady’s statement about the importance of a muscle’s ability to lengthen, relax and disperse high-velocity, heavy incoming force to avoid injury,” says Tanioka. “However, I think that athletes also must be able to exert maximum power whether actively generating force or passively resisting incoming stress, which requires the ability to shorten and be taut and firm as well as lengthen. The ability of the tissue to be durable and contractile is just as important as to elongate and soften when it comes to performance and injury prevention.”
In the view of our experts, it’s not about dense, soft, stiff, or other qualitative words. Instead, they emphasize developing function through different types of strength qualities athletes need. Athletes must prepare for the intense stress and strain their muscles will face in their sport. They need to blend the right strength training with mobility and flexibility.
Myth 3: Strength training makes muscles short
“It’s an old wives’ tale that took hold when bodybuilding techniques had a big influence on strength and conditioning. A muscle can be incredibly strong without sacrificing any range of motion” according to international expert and President of Velocity Sports Performance, Ken Vick, who has worked with athletes in 10 Olympic Games and helped lead the Chinese Olympic Committee’s preparation efforts for 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
“I’ll give you two great examples: Gymnasts are, pound-for-pound, very strong and incredibly explosive, yet they are known to be some of the most flexible athletes. Olympic weightlifters are clearly some of the strongest athletes in the world and are also generally very flexible. They spend practically every day doing strength training and their muscles aren’t ‘short’.”
In fact, proper lifting technique demands excellent flexibility and mobility. For example, poor hip flexor flexibility or limited ankle mobility results in an athlete who probably cannot reach the lowest point of a back squat. Our proven methods combine strength training with dynamic mobility, movement training, and state of the art recovery technology to help our athletes gain and maintain the flexibility and mobility required for strength training and optimal performance on the field of competition.
Myth 4: Plyometrics and band training are better for pliability
We hear these types of claims time and again from coaches, trainers, and others who are quoting something they’ve read without much knowledge of the actual training science. Our muscles and brain don’t care if the resistance is provided by bodyweight, bands, weights, cables, or medicine balls. They can all be effective or detrimental, depending on how they are used.
Sports science has shown that manipulating different variables influences both the physiological and neurological effects of strength training. Rate of motion, movement patterns, environment, and type of resistance all influence the results.
Truth: Muscle Pliability is a good thing
Like so many ideas, muscle pliability is a very good concept. The challenge lies in discerning and then conveying what is true and what is not. An experienced therapist can, within just a few moments of touching a person, tell whether that tissue is healthy. A good coach can tell whether an athlete has flexibility or mobility problems, or both, simply by watching them move.
In either case, it takes years of experience and understanding of the human body and training science, like that which is possessed by the performance and sports medicine staff at Velocity, to correctly apply a concept like muscle pliability to an athlete’s training program.
Athletes of all ages ask us this question all the time at Velocity. Simply put, protein is what is going to make you stronger. A body that is getting sufficient amounts of protein is able to effectively grow and repair lean muscle mass. Without enough protein, your muscles will struggle to repair themselves after your workouts.
“That sounds great! I definitely want to get stronger and recover fast, so what foods should I eat to get my protein?”
Animal sources like chicken, fish, and beef are great options. Animal proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, which are the actual components responsible for the growth and repair of your body’s muscles, bones, and tissues. Remember, milk and eggs come from animals, so they are also excellent options for a protein-rich diet. Try your best to choose animal protein options that are lower in fat, such as skinless chicken rather than fried chicken.
If animal proteins aren’t your thing (I’m looking at you, vegetarians and vegans), consider pairs of foods such as beans with rice, or nut butters with wheat bread. The beans or nut butters have proteins, but only when paired with the rice and bread, respectively, do they contain all nine essential amino acids.
“OK, that’s very helpful. But what if I’m a really picky eater? Are there any other ways to be sure that I’m getting enough protein?”
Many athletes include protein supplements in their daily diet. High quality whey proteins are the best option for athletes – particularly people without food allergies. Whey is a protein extracted during milk production, it belongs in the “animal proteins” category that we previously discussed. Check the labels and look for things like BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids) and glutamine. If you’re lactose-intolerant, try to choose a hydrolyzed whey protein. These have already been broken down into their simplest forms, so they won’t cause digestive issues, and they will also be absorbed into your body more quickly. Vegetarians and vegans should look for plant-based protein supplements containing hemp and pea proteins. These contain ample amounts of all nine essential amino acids.
“Thanks, Coach! One last question before I head to the store to get my protein: How much should I be taking each day?”
Every athlete is different, but a simple beginner’s rule to follow is to get 25-30 grams of protein five times per day. More specifically, someone who wants 150 pounds of lean muscle mass (such as a very fit and lean 170-pound athlete) should be eating approximately 150 grams of protein each day. It can sometimes be difficult to get this much protein into your daily diet, so using both foods and supplements throughout the day is recommended. Also, always try to get 25-30 grams of protein shortly after every workout because this is when your body is most receptive to the benefits that proteins provide.
Athletes from pros through weekend warriors have recognized the importance of using different types of sports recovery techniques to recover faster, feel better, and train harder. However, with all the different options to choose from, it’s hard to know which one works best.
The first thing to remember is that everything isn’t for everyone all of the time. So, when someone asks “what kind of recovery tool is best?” the answer is, it depends.
Here’s what you need to understand to get more benefit from your recovery strategies.
Recovery works by helping your body through it’s natural processes of returning to a state of internal balance. Training, competition, injury, and even life, are all stresses that add up and push your systems out of balance. Recovery means something to help bring you back into balance.
Returning the body to a state of equilibrium after stress requires you to address the specific type of stress you just endured. This is where a lot of recovery plans and techniques fall apart. If you don’t target the right type of stress or systems in the body, the recovery you try won’t make a difference. It’s like putting more insulation on a house when the real problem is a hole in the roof.
The Velocity sports recovery methodology was developed for the world’s elite athletes – to keep them at their best under enormous pressure. One of the foundations of is that there are 4 big categories of stress. We classify them as:
This is physical damage to your tendons, muscles, bones, and joints caused from contact, pressure, and tension in sports. It might be microscopic, but it takes a toll.
Repeated foot strikes while running, repetitive tendon stress on a pitcher’s elbow, or contusions and damage from collisions in rugby, football, or MMA are exactly the kinds of things that add up to potential or actual injury. Tissues need to heal properly on the microscopic level after each practice or competition.
This is probably the area people think of most when talking about sports recovery. When you are putting in long hours of training, doing high intensity MetCons, or logging long distances, there’s a large metabolic and biochemical demand on your system. The numerous physiological elements all need to be returned to normal and metabolic wastes need to be removed.
Whether it comes from sport or life, mental and emotional stresses have an impact on both mind and body. It can come from from emotional challenges, learning new tasks, or just intense focus for practice and competition. Our bodies’ physical recovery mechanisms are tied to our mental state.
States of mental stress and anxiety trigger particular functions of our nervous system and release stress hormones. While these can be useful during competition or training, they inhibit or even completely block natural recovery mechanisms. Therefore, in order to achieve physical recovery, the mind must be in a state of relaxation.
Often overlooked, neuromuscular fatigue doesn’t necessarily make you feel tired in the way you might think. Instead of feeling stiff, sore, or a generally fatigued, you just might lose that “snap” in your movement.
When you perform high power exercises like sprinting, jumping, and weightlifting, you stress the nervous system as well as your muscles. Until you recover, you won’t be able to fire them at full speed or intensity.
Make your recovery specific
Knowing that all regeneration methods aren’t the same or equal is the first step towards getting it right. Make sure you know the specific type of sports recovery you need at different stages of training and even different days of the week to make to make your recovery process better.
At Velocity, our coaching and sports medicine staff can help you decide which combination of regen and recovery tools you need to help you stay at your best.
Flexibility: the ability to flex bend and move through a full range of motion. As humans, all of our bodies are designed for the most part the same. With a few differences between men and women obviously. Why then if all bodies are the same can some bodies move better than others?
Let’s ask Aristotle. “We, are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit?”
If all our bodies are the same, then the difference between flexible people and inflexible people are their habits! I imagine during Aristotle’s day there were not many issues with flexibility because back then people moved around more. Today in our society we sit. When we sit down for hours at a time we are constantly telling our body that this is the position we want to be in. Then gravity takes its toll on us. We round our shoulders, and hunch forward making us less mobile in the t-spine. Sitting tells us to shorten the hip flexors, and turns off the glutes because we are sitting on them.
Sitting is human nature now, and is a bad habit that has consequences. We don’t make this connection that sitting is making us immobile. We just assume that our bodies don’t move through full ranges of motion anymore as we age! Or when we move it hurts because we have created muscle imbalances from all that sitting!
We wake up one day and everything hurts when we move because we are not movers anymore we are sitters. We want to get up and move because we know it is good for our health, but our limited range of motion makes it hard. So what do we do to help restore our flexibility? Well we need to move! We need get up out of our chair and relearn how to move our body through a full range of motion. We have been inactive so long that a full range of motion is no longer achievable and some muscle groups are then forced to work harder than normal to compensate! How can we fix this limitation we have placed on ourselves?
Everyone knows the answer to how to get more flexible, and that is to STRETCH! We pick an area that is tight and we stretch it painstakingly for 2 min a side and viola! We are magically fixed. WRONG! Stretching for 2 minutes never helped anyone get more flexible. Think about it how many times have you reached down and tried to touch your toes hoping that they would come closer? It just doesn’t happen. The 2 minutes you spend on each side stretching, even if it is daily, will never add up to counteract the hours of sitting we do each day!
So then how do we become more flexible? By moving. By getting up and taking your body through a full range of motion! You need to move everyday through a full range of motion. Now be warned it is going to take time to get back to where your body used to be just as it took years of sitting to get you where you are now! But, by moving and doing something every day you can start the good habit of getting back to being flexible.
What should I do then to help improve my flexibility? I really suggest everyone learn how to squat properly. Dr. Kelly Starett says everyone should try to spend 10 min in the bottom of a squat every day. Your body knows how to do this it has just forgotten! You need to reteach it how to be mobile and move through a pain free full range of motion. You can use some assistance with weight to help you get all the way down there or hold on to a chair to get into a good position.
So you’re saying I shouldn’t stretch at all? Now, stretching can facilitate moving better, and there are plenty of good stretches that can help you relearn how to squat by bringing awareness to a certain muscle group by stretching it for a bit. But, if we never actually squat and move, all the stretching in the world won’t help us understand how to move better because we are not moving.
If you want to be more flexible try to sit less and move more. Re-teach yourself how to squat properly and use stretching to help this endeavor. It will take time but it is time you are investing into yourself to make you a healthier more mobile you!
The Graston Technique® is an innovative, evidence-based form of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization that enables clinicians to detect and effectively break down scar tissue and fascial restrictions, as well as maintain optimal range of motion.
The unique protocol uses specially designed stainless steel instruments, along with appropriate therapeutic exercise, to specifically detect and effectively treat areas exhibiting soft tissue fibrosis or chronic inflammation. The instruments also are used diagnostically to follow the kinetic chain, to locate and treat the cause of the symptom as well as the specific area of pain. Graston Technique® is also frequently used as an effective protocol to maintain range of motion.
Graston Technique® does not need to be considered “painful” to be effective. Please inform your clinician if you are experiencing discomfort anytime during treatment. Patients usually receive two treatments per week during a four-to-five-week period. Most patients have a positive response by the third to fourth treatment. Graston Technique® is accepted nationwide by elite athletes and everyday patients, as one of the most effective treatments for rehabilitation and range of motion maintenance, especially when combined with other treatment modalities such as exercise.
Graston is just another effective way for athletes to recover faster. Combined with other recovery techniques, athletes can return to play much quicker than with traditional rest and icing techniques. If you are interested in Graston contact your nearest Velocity Sports Performance.