Recovery Hacking 101
Try These Free and Easy Recovery Practices to Enhance Your Workouts
Ice baths, Cryogenic Therapy, Rock Tape, foam rolling, massage, infrared sauna... The list of old and new school recovery methods goes on and on.
What would happen if we changed our thinking in regards to fitness recovery?
To look at recovery in a new light means more options. If we can take advantage of recovery hacks (that just so happen to be free AND easy) we’re less likely to overtrain and fry our nervous system, which leads to less soreness and more energy.
Why is Recovery Important?
Let’s talk about the autonomic nervous system (ANS). It breaks it up into two sections: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic.
The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) prepares the body for taxing physical activity. The SNS is synonymous with the flight-or-fight response. We mainly use this response during heavy lifting/training.
The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) has the opposite effect. It relaxes the body and is considered to be the “rest and digest” part of our autonomic nervous system. The body is at rest when the PNS is in control.
Why Should We Care?
According to the natural developmental sequence we undergo from birth, infant and toddler years to adulthood, we use certain factors controlled by the autonomic nervous system as an audit; a way of surviving and maturing. Some examples are breathing, rolling, rocking, crawling, crossing midline and “shaking it out”.
Breathing is the number one element we can change directly. Using specific breathing techniques during a heavy set of squats or deadlifts can help us produce more power (SNS focus). Same concept applies to recovery. Targeting slow diaphragmatic breathing in between sets or during our daily lives can help offset the negative effects of working out, or stress in general (PNS focus).
How to do it:
- Breathe: Find a few belly breaths in between sets or at certain points of the day when we have time to focus on it.
- Rolling and Rocking: Babies do it, why shouldn’t we?! Rolling and rocking (in that order) are essential to the developmental sequence. Infants roll before they can rock in the quadruped position (on hands and knees). As adults, these moves “turn on” the parasympathetic nervous system.
- “Shaking it Out”:Practicing fast and loose drills also helps activate the PNS in between strenuous exercise.
These systems are built into our DNA. Utilizing them in a smart and controlled way, switching from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system by means of specific resets, is an easy way to hack our workout recovery.
Try a few of these free of cost recovery methods and see what works best for your body.