Recovery was always positioned in the Sports performance world. Athletes jumping in and out of cold water after their sport, recovery movements coached by the trainers.

Now though, the world has discovered that this isn’t just for athletes, this is for everyone and the benefits are emerging that possibly this new Recovery trend is how we get back our balance in life, reduce the stress, decrease inflammation and injuries, increase circulation and help remove toxins and generally have happier cells and tissues in our body.

What is Recovery?

Recovery is a very broad term and it really does encompass everything from nutrition, sleep, movement, recovery protocols like hot and cold immersion (contrast therapies) to compression, Percussion, Sauna and a whole range more, even Hyper Baric Chambers.

One of the greatest pioneers in the sports performance world was a gentleman named Mark Verstegen. His business pumped out some of the greatest athletes in US history regularly and his recovery techniques even 2 decades ago were ground breaking. Mark understood that an athlete who wasn’t recovering wasn’t performing and he coined this term:

STRESS + STRESS = MORE STRESS

STRESS + RECOVERY = PERFORMANCE

When Mark talked about stress he meant everything that a person is exposed to that’s stressful life life, allergens, work, and especially in his world Metabolic and Neuromuscular load with his athletes from all of their training in his facility Athletes Performance, now called EXOS. What he started to notice was the athletes who didn’t do any consistent form of Recovery generally dropped in performance and when you are an NFL, NHL, NBA player, a drop in performance can mean a loss of millions of dollars or even losing their contract.

So when you start to understand the body, you realise that working out hard day in and day out and layering on top if that life’s stressors it creates a high level of fatigue within the tissues and cells of the body. If the body dosent have a chance to Recover from this stress it accumulates and leads to fatigue, injuries, poor sleep, drop in sex drive and important hormones like Oestrogen and Testosterone.

What Type of Recovery Does Your Body Need?

There are many different recovery protocols ranging from intense and uncomfortable to relaxing and calm. What type of protocol you use is really important based on what type of recovery your body needs. Here is a guide to help you understand this:

1.0 Poor Sleep

If you are suffering from poor sleep, there are a few recovery techniques you can use and incorporate into your life. Ending a recovery session on hot and not cold will help you sleep. When you end on a high level of heat like a traditional sauna or hot immersion plunge, the body will then try to cool you down and this cooling process mimics the drop in temperature of the body as it’s getting ready to sleep. As it cools, it activates Melatonin to help you calm and sleep. In addition to ending your recovery on hot and not cold, removing any light from your bedroom is also key. Any light exposure will stop the melatonin production and will make it harder for you to sleep. Also avoid alcohol as it’s known for keeping you awake during your normal sleeping hours and any high sugar meal.

 

 

2.0 Low Energy – Low Sex Drive

When the body is stressed over a long period of time it will start to produce a constant fight or flight response. When this happens the blood flow is reduced to the organs and pushed to the extremities. It also produces a hormone called Cortisol. This will blunt or reduce production of the important healing and growth hormones Oestrogen and Testosterone. This also affects sex drive and your sleep patterns in a negative way. Contrast therapies (hot and cold immersion) are a great way to flush the body with nor adrenaline and Dopamine which help to shift the body away from Cortisol production and allows the blood to flow normally back to the organs, increase good hormone production and in general helps to offset the effects of Cortisol on the body. The science is still a little unsure why this happens but is getting closer each year. Cold and Hot immersion is the perfect tool to help reset the body in this stressed state.

General consensus is that an accumulate period of 12 minutes per week of Cold Immersion is what they body needs. Better to do in 3-4 outings rather than trying to do in one go, as it’s very uncomfortable and staying in cold water for long periods of time can be dangerous. Not only will Cold and Hot immersion help the above, it will also reduce inflammation, build resilience making your body tolerate things better, improve your mood and help with overall recovery

 

 

3.0 Stress

If you are feeling stressed there are many different protocols for recovery to help. Breath Work and focused breathing is oneway to activate the vagus nerve and the para sympathetic nervous system. This para sympathetic system helps the body to rest and recover. Lightly weighting the diaphragm while lying on your back and doing breath work will even activate the vagus nerve more. Infrared Sauna will also gently help to calm the nervous system and protocols like Percussion and Vibration/Compression all work on the tissue and the nerves within the tissue to help relax, rehydrate and recover.

 

 

4.0 Detox

If you are feeling a bit high in toxins from drinking, food choices, environmental factors some protocols for recovery can help. Anything that helps to move blood and lymph within the body is great so Compression and Vibration great here. Cold and Hot contrast therapies are really important here as the cold faces the blood vessels to shrink and the heat causes them to expand. This acts like a pump and helps to flush toxins away from stagnant areas of the body. Any type of sauna will also have a detoxifying effect by increasing circulation and sweating toxins out through your skin.

 

 

 

5.0 Performance

If you are an athlete or training for an event, recovery is crucial to helping you get better results and prepare stronger. Look for Cold and Hot contrast therapies after any endurance event, BUT don’t look for cold after a strength workout for 2-3 hours. The cold will stop the natural inflammation that you want from a strength workout to build muscle. Any frequency will be beneficial recovering from a training event, but from top to bottom think Whole Body Vibration, Percussion Guns and then Compression Boots.

 

 

Generally when thinking Recovery, understand that the more uncomfortable a protocol like Cold and Hot immersion, the higher hormonal response you will see within the body. This will elicit a better outcome for your Recovery.

But like all forms of protocols that affect your body from movement, heat and cold exposure, vibration and frequencies, more is not necessarily better. Start with low volumes and work your way up, don’t over expose yourself to cold or hot as both could prove dangerous and try to experience the more uncomfortable protocols if you are looking for the quickest and most effective results.