I woke up today feeling yesterday’s workout in all the right places – quads (especially the outer thighs), glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Not sore, but just the right amount of a “tired” feeling in the legs to know I really worked the muscles well. My recovery process began almost instantaneously after the workout (partially so my legs can be ready 2 days later for Gregg’s spin class!)
Because time is limited, it’s impossible to always incorporate every good recovery strategy into the routine every day. But knowing what works for you makes it easier to include what works the best and what gets you back into the gym as soon as possible without risking injury.
My normal protocol includes:
(1) Myofacial Release: My first post-workout step is always spending as much time as possible on the foam roller and using my Trigger Point Performance “massage” balls to release any tight spots that have developed. Equinox offers a great Rx Series, including several taught by Melinda, that incorporate yoga balls to release knots. Trigger Point Performance also has videos online and for purchase that offer other techniques. These are truly nothing short of unbearable some days (but in a good way, somehow). My three favorite leg moves are working up-and-down the IT bands, using the massage balls and calve roller on the calves, and using the massage balls to roll out near the top of the knee (can’t find a good web image, so I’ll post a photo demonstrating soon).
Of course, massage where someone else releases all your knots is also nice! Alex S. at Equinox Columbus Circle is a miracle worker. Similarly, dry needling/acupuncture is great for chronic, deep knots. Mark Thompson is a normal part of my weekly life – absolutely incredible results.
(2) Cold Therapy: From here, I go into the sauna for 15 minutes and then into a hot-cold (x5 for 30 sec each) shower. There isn’t a lot of science to back up either of these recovery techniques, but they feel nice after a hard workout and in practice seem to help my muscles stay a little more limber the next day. And Mark from Mark’s Daily Apple supports cold water therapy, if that makes anyone more willing to try it….
(3) Hot Bath: Similar to the cold therapy idea, I also love “detox” baths – there is some scientific support but again – it just feels awesome. 🙂 I add clay (or this one), mineral salts, and organic essential oils.
(4) Sleep: This should actually be number one if this list were ranked by importance. Since I have started sleeping a full 8 hours (and sometimes 8.5 hours), my recovery and energy levels have skyrocketed. Seems basic, but very few NY-ers I know are getting in 8 hours. And I get it, for 10 years, I functioned on 3-4 hours a night – in a city where work demands so much, and there are so many amazing ways to spend your nights, it takes a conscious commitment to sleep.
(4) Supplements: I take BCAAs/glutamine before and after working out (see the science here, here, here, here, and here – noting that these should be taken consumed quickly after a workout), tart cherry capsules (can’t really get behind the idea of drinking hundreds of empty calories, so I take the pill form, but there is support you can read here, here, and here about the benefits), Magnesium in the form of Natural Calm (I take this mainly to aid in helping me sleep, but see here for potential recovery benefits), Shroom Tech (the Onnit site has links to the science to back up their products), and Enzymes from AST (no science on this, but it came at the suggestion of Gregg Cook, and my endocrinologist thought they were a good supplement to add, so I’m giving them a try.) Note: many of the links require you to pay to get the articles, or you can read the abstracts for free. I tend to buy when I’m skeptical, but you can decide how much info you need.
(5) NUTRITION! Eating properly really helps you body recover more quickly. When you eat **it, you feel like **it. When you eat high-quality food, your body just runs better.
Getting in 20-50 g of protein (see also: here) within 30 min-1 hour of working out, as well as complex carbs (for me, mainly from veggies and a small serving of fruit) is ideal. Even more important is fueling your body properly the rest of the time.
I eat nearly the same breakfast everyday, and it keeps me absolutely energized and full for hours. Based on recommendations from my endocrinologist and other sources, I aim for 35-50 g of protein with breakfast, about 25 g of carbs, and include my version of bulletproof tea (tea since I have given up coffee – not because it is banned by strict paleo followers for being a legume, but because my ALCAT test showed I have an inflammatory response to coffee.)
My green juice is all veggie and absolutely delicious (ok, so not everyone agrees that my veggie-only, kale-heavy drink is delicious, but I love it). I always start with the same base – a cucumber and fresh ginger (super anti-inflammatory), and then add whatever greens look best at the farmer’s market that week – kale, sweet potato greens, vitamin greens, swiss chard, arugula, spinach. I finish it off with 2 stalks celery, a piece of fennel, and a chunk of jalapeno.
While my green juice gets cold over ice, I make my bulletproof tea:
I use 1/2 T ghee, 1/2 T coconut manna, vanilla beans, cinnamon, and 1T MCT oil with Numi tea. Blend everything but the tea bag with an immersion blender — it should get frothy and smooth — and then add the tea bag like normal. Forget the purported health benefits – this is just straight delicious.
On the side is pork from Grazin Angus Acres, prosciutto (doesn’t get any better than 2 ingredients and no nitrates), and one egg:
Today I included a baby plum and 4 brazil nuts for the selenium. People who know me well will be surprised by the small portion size of my homemade “sriracha.” This week’s recipe (below) was altered because the peppers were just plain scary hot. When I opened the food processor, my eyes, face, nose, etc. were on FIRE, and I actually got red spots on my face. This scared me, so I held back on my first taste. Luckily, it is delightfully hot while still being edible in this modified version below.
Servings: Not many if you love Sriracha! About 1.5 cups
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 10 min
1 lb mixed red peppers – including jalapenos, serranos, cayenne, fushimi and any other varieties you enjoy (if you accidentally buy an ultra hot variety from the farmer’s market like I did this week, add 1-2 small red bell peppers and 1 heirloom tomato)
4-6 cloves garlic
1.5 tsp salt
1/2- 3/4 c organic white vinegar (enough to cover the peppers in the pan)
2 T homemade or sugar-free ketchup
(1) Pulse the peppers, garlic, and salt (and if necessary, tomato) in the food processor with the S-Blade.
(2) Cover with vinegar, add ketchup, and cook on medium high for 10 minutes.
(3) Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, if it lasts that long!
For the bravehearted, the twisty ones and the baby ones are the scary hot peppers: