After “trashing” muscles, whether just beginning to work out or following intensive training, there are ways to help the body repair faster to limit soreness and training can continue with most effectiveness. Here are the best recovery practices you can include in your/your child’s training life:
1. HYDRATION: Get a good water bottle and don’t let it leave your side. Fill with plain water, or add squeeze of fresh lemon, cucumber, a pinch of tropical salt. Powerade has B vitamins that Gatorade doesn’t but they both have extra chemical flavors and colors that aren’t the best for long-term, non-stop consumption. Coconut water has all the benefits of these drinks naturally. Mix it with other watered down juices to make it refreshing and appealing. Hydrating helps performance and flushes lactic acid plus a zillion other benefits.
2. NUTRITION: “Hobbit” meals are best! Breakfast 1 & 2, Dinner 1 & 2, Supper 1 & 2. Keep meals smaller and more frequent. A great rule of thumb is to combine lean proteins with vegetables or fruits for the base of each meal. Don’t forget proteins like greek yogurt, quinoa and brown or black rice, chia seeds and nuts for variety! Breads should have the nuttiest, seediest ingredients. Post-work out: drink chocolate milk or tart cherry juice within 10 minutes after work out, then a protein-complex carb meal within 30-60 minutes to fuel muscle repair in most efficient way. I’ve found that kids will shift away from white bread/rice when you introduce the tastes early in life and slowly. They need to be exposed to whole foods early to help their palate develop aka “aquire the taste”. Don’t shy away from finding breads that have a little brown in them and make incremental moves towards darker breads and colorful vegetables. They’ll fight, but slowly prefer the taste in the long run!
3. COOL DOWN: After a work out, swim, bike, jog, walk easily for 20-30 minutes to help your body flush out lactic acid.
4. REST: make sure that naps and sleep are included as training levels increase. The body repairs and rebuilds during. Naps should be no more than an hour and half to prevent messing with overall sleep rhythm of the day.
5. STRETCH: Yoga is a perfect means of engaging a core strength workout while also stetching out muscles. As muscles work and bunch/bulk up, it’s important to lengthen them back out, not only for comfort but to maximize range of motion that will enhance sport performance. Try adding yoga 1x week into the training schedule. Plan daily shorter and one longer session of stretching each week.
6. MYOFASCIAL RELEASE: Grab foam rollers, hand rollers, and/or a tennis ball. Roll out on the foam roller to squeeze out the lactic acid and break down the tissue that crunches up the muscles up. Roll on a tennis ball until you find a more painful spot/knot (back, flexor area, IT band are particular spots to focus on), stop on it, breath and relax (while screaming in pain) for 30 seconds then move on to the next spot (you’re using the tennis ball to deeply massage a trigger point that will release the knots!) After doing this regularly, you’ll find you’ll have fewer painful knots and specifically tight muscles will release!
7. CONTRAST BATHS: As soreness increases, the need for this treatment increases. Jump from hot/cold water, submerged to the neck is best, but showers work too, varying duration from 1-5 minutes and 3-4 X. The contrast needs to be at least 30 degree difference in temperature and the more extreme the contrast the greater effect. It’s best to start with hot and go to cold unless it’s bedtime when ending hot will help sleep. Swimming easily in a cold pool is best then jump into a hot tub and repeat. Cold temperatures reduces muscle inflamation while hot infuses muscles with blood for repair. Contrast baths creates a pump action of repair work that will add recovery well.
8. CONTRAST BATHS: Use compression clothing after work-outs or wear to bed. These squeeze the muscles to help reduce inflamation and squeeze out lactic acid. There are socks, sleeves, pants and tops.
9. MASSAGE/SOFT TISSUE SPECIALIST TREATMENTS: Find a sports specific practitioner to get deep tissue, flush massages, stretching, acupuncture, etc. Osteopathic physiotherapists have an arsenal of practices they can use to aide rapid recovery during intense training.
10. : Before bed, add 500 grams of Epsom salts and a shot of grapeseed oil and camomile teabag or any other moisterizer and scent to relax after another hard day of training and just before bed. The salts pull out toxins from the body and help reduce inflamation while the grapeseed oil naturally moisterizes the skin. Scents like camomile are calming to help induce deep sleep so needed to rebuild over-night.