You jump in Feet first with out hesitation doing Burpees, Jumping Jacks, Sprints, and dozens of other movements to get you moving towards your goal. Then 10 days into the process all of sudden your start to get this pain in you lower back, your knees start to hurt around you kneecaps, along with several other painful issues that you may have experienced before. So you decide to fight you way through the pain and discomfort only to have the pain intensify until one morning you can’t even walk because of the pain in your joints. So you decide to rest your body for a week, then that week turns into two -three four weeks. Then life happens you get out of rhythm and you don’t return wasting your time money(which some gym count on) and then you are back to square one
As I continue my journey as a father, coach/trainer, (ex-husband lol) and entrepreneur/business owner, sometimes I can have in a bit of a negative disposition, if I allow these short-term situations within the surrounding environment around me control my attitude and my approach towards my daily activities that negative environment will influence my behavior to a certain extent and if I don’t recognize this negative influence my environment will create my reality, which will influence my behavior and when that happens my environment is creating who I am..... Unless I make a conscious effort to maintain a positive environment.
In this second installment of the Atlas Pro Training train like a F.R.E.A.K. blog series were are going to talk about Recovery, where all the "MAGIC" happens! If you have trained or been coached by me you have heard this over and over again, and it has paid off for you. Sometimes its human nature to want to train until you are drained, which is referred to as "overreaching" by most professional strength and conditioning coaches and trainers. This is essential to achieving the maximum physical and mental benefit from your training program, preparing your mind, body, and spirit for competition. BUT there would be no gains without a proper recovery plan that includes three main elements Sleep, Active recovery/dynamic stretching, and massage.
The key to any effective recovery plan is to consistently implement all three of these suggested habits into your lifestyle as an athlete. This may seem simple to just get some sleep right? But in most cases, it is not always easy to find the time to get the recommend 6-8 hours of quality sleep that is required for the body to repair and recharge. It is possible though if your recovery is a priority to you and you want to be the best at what you do, here are a few suggestions that may help you get the sleep you have been missing.
- Schedule your bedtime and stick to it!
- Try chamomile/sleepy time tea
- Read a book in a quiet space
- Remove all distractions from your sleeping area; phone, tablets, television,
- Listen to music with no words like Jazz, Classical music, etc.
These are suggested strategies have helped me (a chronic light sleeper) to this day develop quality sleeping habits, understand that sometimes the quality of the sleep you get is better than the quantity. I have found that the way I prepare to sleep has helped me develop a routine that has changed my behavior beyond just changing my habit.
Next, we are going to look at active recovery and what is actually is. Active recovery is participating is light physical activity, in efforts of maintaining a mobility and flexibility. The low levels of intensity will allow the body to rid itself of lactic acid and other harmful substances by "flushing" the muscles using movement. There are several examples of active recovery that I have suggested my clients do that are light low-intensity forms of movement, here are a few:
- Beginners Yoga
- Dynamic Stretching
- Light Jog
- A pickup game of your favorite sport
- Yard work
The use of massage has been the chose from or rest and recovery for most people for decades. But most people consider massage a luxury, which in some case may be true, but massage is essential to helping the musculature and the tough outer covering called Fascia. During heavy bouts of exercise, there are small micro-tears that occur in the muscle tissue and the fascia and musculature become misaligned and pulled out of place causing knots and kicks that may cause some pain and discomfort. Massage therapy can be applied to everyone recovery plan and should be considered essential to improving your health and performance. Here are a few examples of massage therapy:
- Deep Tissue Therapeutic Massage
- Foam Rolling/Myofascial Release
- Cupping Therapy
- Body Tempering
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF Stretching)
Your recovery plan should be simple yet complete and include all the elements that I mentioned earlier, this could be the difference between gaining the edge you are training for to compete and perform at a high level, or losing that last 10 pounds that have been stuck to you after several months of training sessions. Your recovery plan sets the tone for your training program. To train and perform at a high level you need to recovery like a F.R.E.A.K.
After I my professional football career I trained the same way I had for the past 20+ years, I warmed up for 5-8 min on a stationary bike or treadmill then I would do a static stretch similar to the stretches you use to do in high school gym class.
You remember those stretches? Dead mans hang, hurdler stretch, static lunge, hip stretch, split leg stretch, sumo squat, etc. These stretches have value and I have nothing bad to say abut performing these stretches, I even implement them in my training programming for my clients of all levels of abilities, and fitness levels, but in my professional opinion static stretching alone is not enough to get the full benefit form your training program.
Several years after I retired from professional sports I trained and worked to maintain a level of fitness that would allow be active and maintain my strength and mobility. I trained on and off of two and half years, due to nagging injuries that would not go away from the years of punishment I deal out and received over close to two decades of playing college and professional football. I had a issue with low back pain, I was recovering from my second knee scope within two years, and I had several other physical issues which limited my ability to function and improve my physical fitness level consistently. After years of battling my body and the numerous issues that I was having I decided that there was something I was doing wrong, but I had no idea of how to fix these issues, so I continued to stretch and workout like I always have. but with the same result; train for several weeks, stop due to injury for several weeks. This was a cycle that I went through for close to three years, until I discovered the proper way to not only prepare train but to try to correct the mobility and strength imbalance issues that were the main reasons of why I had these nagging physical issues that prevented me from maintain a consistent training regimen.
After years of enduring pain and loss of training time, I was going through my small library of health and training books (5 books) I ran across a book and DVD set that was given to me as a gift in 2007. I had not opened this set until then, it was still wrapped in plastic and was in great condition, it was Mark Verstegen's book Core Performance, This book changed my life and is the reason I decided to become a trainer, and it showed me that in order for you body to perform at its highest level it must be prepared to train.
The foundation with in the philosophy of movement preparation is to prepare the body to train not just to stretch or lengthen muscles and the connective tissue as in traditional static stretching, Movement preparation is also an effective way to gage a monitor your fitness level as you progress through your training, for example as you perform these movements and learn the patterns of these movement you will notice that they will become easier and I suggested to increase the amount of repetitions (by 2-4 reps)and intensity per movement (by increasing the tempo/speed of the movement) every two-three weeks.
The movement prep or dynamic stretch can also involve corrective exercises which focus on improving the strength imbalances, mobility, and stability issues discovered during the physical assessment. This helps with [possible] prevention of injury, increases stability, and mobility which in turn makes the training session more productive.
In conclusion, in my professional opinion a comprehensive movement prep or dynamic stretching program will improve the quality of training, and lead to greater gains, whether that be weight loss, strength, cardiovascular/stamina, mobility, or your physical well being.