Unfortunately, there’s a lot of information out there about how to exercise, but far less information about the application of proper rest and recovery techniques. injuries resulting from inadequate recovery from exercise are on the rise. High intensity exercise programs are both effective and sustainable life-long, when combined with good nutrition and recovery practices.
At some point in all of our lives, we’re likely to find ourselves over-trained, under-recovered, under-slept, under- nourished and (eventually) injured. The early stages of pain and injury are the time to pay attention and take action to keep those nagging aches and pains at bay. These are the REBEL headquarters steps to taking care of those aches and pains.
1. | Take Extra Rest Days
Don’t be afraid to take time off! When you're hurting is the ideal time to let your body rest. An injury takes time to heal, injured body parts need one to 4 weeks of rest. Yes, really – rest it longer than you think you should. Chronic pain sucks and it really messes with your performance so rest up so the pain goes away.
2. | Get Rubbed Down
Find a good massage therapist or rolfer. Massage can improve muscle function, resulting in less swelling and fewer signs of inflammation after exercise. If you’re beat up and in pain skip today’s workout and hit the massage table. Too broke to see your massage therapist every week? Spend intimate time with your foam roller. Work with a tennis ball or lacrosse ball for some self-myofascial release.
3. | Keep Moving
Low intensity exercise helps with injury prevention and recovery. Moving your body increases blood flow to the injured area. It also increases oxygen levels to speed up healing, and increases circulation to remove the debris out of injured areas. Finally, exercise prevents stiffness and decreases the formation of scar adhesions. When healing from an injury, keep things light and easy. Stretch, walk and swim your way out of pain.
4. | Heat and Ice Appropriately
For acute injuries (less than 5 days old), ice is your best friend. Apply the ice to the injured area for 20-30 minutes, multiple times a day. Or you could apply ice directly to the injured area with ice massage for 8-10 minutes. Don’t put heat on an acute injury. The inflammatory process is biochemical, and heat literally speeds up that process. Chronic injuries (anything that persists for longer than 2-3 weeks) respond best to heat, which improves blood flow to the healing tissue. So once you’re into the 5-plus day range, you can use contrasting hot and cold, alternating every 2-5 minutes for a total of 20-30 minutes, especially post-workout.
5. | Eat Your Veggies
Colorful vegetables help to offset the negative effects of acidic metabolic waste. Vitamin C and polyphenols, like those in broccoli and dark leafy greens, are essential for the repair of connective tissue and to reduce inflammation. Vitamins E (found in sprouts, avocado and dark, leafy greens) and A (found in green and yellow vegetables) are also important nutrients for connective tissue and cell repair.
6. | Sleep like you've never slept before.
This may seem obvious but sleeping allows our body important time to heal.
7. | Ditch the Advil
Sure, NSAIDs suppress the inflammatory process and help with pain control. But research has shown that they actually slow down the overall healing process, and cause the “healed” tissue to be less strong. So allow your body’s healing process run its natural course, and don’t band-aid it with Advil (http://www.outsideonline.com/1783911/does-advil-hurt-healing).
Looking for a body worker in Denver? Here are our favorites:
Michael Polon Rofler - http://www.rolfingdenver.com/Welcome.html
Harmony Healing Cherry Creek - http://integrativeharmony.com