You’ve put in the hard work in the gym, so that’s it right? Not quite. Working to get the best results doesn’t end when we end our last set. In fact, all we have done at that point is stress our body, in hopes of it making a change. That change is actually made in your time after you leave the gym. With our 360 degree view of training, we want to optimize this time just as much as we do the time we spend in the gym. Work smarter and harder, right. The best pros focus on recovery, so let’s get you doing it as well. Only, I’ll share with you a hand full of high impact items you can do that don’t require millions of dollars and special equipment.
1. Isometric Split Squats
First, before even leaving them gym, we can get started. You’ve just finished a vertical jump training, maybe a practice workout and it has a lot of jumping. Let’s make the first step in keeping our knees happy and feeling pain free. Add in a set (or a few) of isomeric split squats. We want to drop into a lunge, with one knee down towards the ground hovering just a couple of inches above it. Then actively squeeze the muscles all around that front knee. Try not to rest your hands on the front leg, and don’t let the hips rise too high and you get tired. Start with 30 seconds, then add time or reps as you get more comfortable with them. These will pump lots of blood (blood flow is nutrients and recovery) into the connective tissues. You won’t like it in the moment, but your knees will thank you in time.
Second, start rehydrating as soon as you can. It’s very likely that when training or practicing, you sweat a good amount. Sweat not only puts out water, but also many nutrients. We want to start the process of getting these back into your body as soon as you can. Dehydration negatively affects all kinds of things, and puts you at a higher injury risk, so take your hydration very seriously. While you may be thinking sports drink here, a cheaper and less sugary alternative can be as simple as adding some sea salt to your water bottle. This will help get the rehydration process going. It’s only a start though, hydration needs to be a part of your daily routine.
3. Loosen Up
Third, is mobility. While your muscles are still warm is a great time to address any problem areas you may have with mobility. Jumping athletes often have very tight feet/ankles/and hips. Maybe for you it’s your quads or your hamstrings. Whatever it is, spend a few minutes while you are rehydrating and cooling down to work on your particular problem areas. This time spend will go a long ways towards keeping you pain free. While for high level pros this may mean a trip to the trainer to get stretched, or to the masseuse, a lack of these resources doesn’t mean we are out of luck. We can definitely run through a few stretches or a short yoga flow on our own. We can also spend that time on a foam roller if that is a tool you have available to you. Either way you go about it, spend the time loosening up tight problem areas.
4. Get Some Nutrients Back
Fourth, we eat. Let’s get some nutrients and resources back into your body, so it knows it can get to work repairing the damage and stress our vertical jump training put on it. You’ll need a quality protein source for sure, also a balanced variety of nutrients you get with a good diet, but what o really want to talk about is some things to avoid. After your vertical jump training, your body is getting stress signals from your body in the form of localized inflammation. This is a good thing, as it’s drawing attention to the areas that need resources to recover. With our diet we want to avoid things that can compete for these resources, meaning we want to avoid foods that can cause their own inflammatory responses. You can learn more about this by seeing how athletes like Tom Brady, Steve Nash, Chris Paul, etc took steps to lengthen their careers by how they are. That’s a longer story, but a simple version is to avoid some simple things we all know aren’t great for us. Here’s a few. Fried foods, especially those done with vegetable or canola oils. Sugary foods, think deserts or bbq sauces as a couple examples. Sugary drinks also fall into this category, so skip the soda or lemonade to optimize your recovery. Next is highly processed foods/bread/starches. Try to pick simpler foods like rices and veggies, over a food that has a dozen ingredients you can’t pronounce on the label. Avoiding foods stressors and inflammatory foods will help ensure the stress signals from your workout are tended to first.
5. Get Some Sleep
This is often overlooked and undervalued. Sleep is vital in recovery for lots of reasons. Even a couple hours less and your hormones balance can suffer. You see pro athletes getting caught for manipulating their hormones to get an edge. Well here is a free way to get an edge, get your sleep and you’ll have a better hormonal balance. 7-9 hours, and maybe a nap if you can. Skip that extra Netflix episode, it will still be there tomorrow. Turn off all the lights, the tv, your phone, and get some restful recover sleep.
If you can dial in your recovery you will absolutely get better results than you would have otherwise. 360 degree approach to getting results is what we aim to provide you with, so you can not only reach your goals, but surpass them.
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