As training gets into full gear, overuse and injury seems to creep up on many endurance athletes. You can tremendously reduce your chance of injury by what you do outside of training. Here are 5 recovery strategies for you to implement into your training program:
1. Foam Roll/Stretch: You need to schedule flexibility sessions into your training week. After long weekends of training our muscle tissue becomes inflamed, tight, and adhesions are formed throughout the fascia. Rolling and soft tissue therapy will help get rid of the small knots and adhesions that build up over time. Plus it will help promote blood flow, which gives you better movement and range of motion. Endurance athletes should focus on the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, IT band and mid-back. Stretching also needs to be implemented into the schedule. Stretching the muscle will help lengthen the fascia to allow for proper movement and range of motion. If our muscles are tight we restrict movement, decrease our performance and eventually we will get hurt. Take time to roll and stretch.
2. Ice: After long and/or hard training sessions icing the legs is a great way to get them to recover at a more rapid pace. Icing will decrease inflammation, any swelling and enhance healing. But icing is not about "more is better". You should ice your legs for no longer than 15 minutes an hour. Any longer can cause damage to the surrounding muscle tissues. If you have a direct pain site (i.e. shin splints, plantar fasciitis, etc.), then ice massage is the way to go. Simply freeze a small water bottle, cut the bottom half of plastic off the bottle to expose the ice and then massage the affected area. Do this for only 5 minutes each hour.
3. Light movement: After a big weekend of training or a race the best thing for your legs is to flush them out the day after. Know the difference of a hard workout and easy moving. These lighter workouts can tremendously assist recovery as it will get your legs through a range of motion, increasing blood flow, decreasing inflammation and promote recovery. Just make sure to keep these workouts very light. Spinning on a bike or a light recovery swim on Monday, following a big training weekend or race, will assist the body to recover and allow for a better week ahead of training.
4. Corrective Work: I wrote an article for www.trifuel.com titled, “Corrective Exercises Triathletes need to do”. Go read the article here: http://trifuel.com/training/triathlon-training/corrective-exercises-that-triathletes-need-to-do and implement these moves into your routine to create a balanced and more functional body.
5. Consistent Sleep: When the body is at rest, it will be at its greatest state of recovery. If you are not getting consistent sleep throughout the week you will suffer, breakdown and it will lead to injury, fatigue and burnout. As endurance athletes we are continually breaking down the body during training and it is a must to get adequate sleep. The key is consistency. So 6 hours of sleep every night is better than 4 hours one night, 8 hours one night and 5 hours another. Aim for 6-8 hours each night. During the day, try and fit in short 15-30 minute naps to rejuvenate and recharge the body and mind.
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