Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Why Recovery Is JUST as important as exercise!

We tend to think that the best thing we can do for our health is exercise.  In fact, this notion has been reinforced so aggressively that it has become a default answer to “How do I lose weight and get fit?”.

The infomercials say it, the diet books say it, the doctor says it, the gym coach in school says it, your mother (or even grandmother) probably says it.  Without fail when the question of how healthy someone is living comes up the first response out of our mouths becomes, “Well how active is she/he?”

Well what happens when this fascination with MORE becomes too much????  What about that other Pillar of Fitness that never gets any attention?  That’s right…what about Recovery???

Before I go any further I should dispel a BIG myth about what recovery is...

It's NOT this:

Or this!

Or EVEN this!

Recovery is about MUCH more than sitting around and waiting for your body to heal.  In fact there are some things you may be doing that are HINDERING your body’s ability to heal rather than helping it!

Nutrition During Recovery:

Of course we want you to eat whole, natural foods in order to fuel your Motiv8 workouts and you will often hear this from us.  BUT, focusing on your diet becomes even MORE important when you are trying to recover from an injury or a tough series of workouts.

Why?  It all has to do with the process of healing!

The first thing you probably notice after an injury is inflammation.  The primary purpose of inflammation is to protect the body from infection and prepare an injury site for delivery of nutritents, fluids and white blood cells to begin healing.  Now what happens when you aren’t putting the necessary nutrients into your body by eating a proper diet?  Well you probably guessed that you’re either going to hinder or at the very least slow the healing process. 

We like to eat for taste but following an injury or any tissue damage (even the good kind in our workouts) it’s SO important to put foods in your body that can be used to put you back to optimal health as efficiently as possible.  If the foods you eat following a hard workout are the kind that your body identifies as foreign substances, it is now focused on flushing them out IN ADDITION to healing whatever it is that laid you up in the first place.  You just set yourself back days simply by putting the wrong food in your body!  One step forward, two steps back! 

In addition to making sure you get the right AMOUNT of calories from WHOLE foods, here are a few items to focus on getting even MORE of than usual for faster healing:

Sleep During Recovery:

Did you know that your body does most of it’s tissue repair during the deep sleep cycle?  Yes, so even while we are unconscious our bodies are working hard to rebuild tissue, repair muscle, re-balance hormone levels and replenish antibodies and immune cells.  In fact, studies show that a very large majority of us need 7 to 9 hours of sleep EVERY night in order to keep these processes from being interrupted.

So what happens if we don’t get enough?

Much like the effects of constant stress on our minds, the buildup of stress on the body from environmental factors (such as hard workouts) or self-induced neglect (such as limiting sleep) is a cumulative effect.  That means that we often won’t see the damage it has done until we are already in trouble.  If you’re not getting enough sleep not only will your brain be “foggy” but you may notice that you’ve lost the ability to quickly bounce back from a simple muscle strain or ligament tear.  What might have been a couple weeks of downtime could quickly turn into months of pain and frustration. 

Balance during recovery

In fact, we may be inviting a new injury to accompany an existing one by not allowing ourselves to heal appropriately.  The natural reaction to pain is often to stop doing what causes the pain.  Honestly if you go to most general practitioners with questions about an injury they will likely tell you to “stay off of it for a while”.  But this may not ALWAYS be the best idea!  In fact, more often than not recovery should be an active process, not a passive one!  We tend to develop many injuries thru movement patterns that are biomechanically unsound.  In the absence of an objectifiable trauma, the best course to recover from these types of injury are to identify the breakdown in the patterns and reprogram them.  This is why your coach may often suggest you see an ART technician, massage therapist, or physical therapist to help you in your recovery.

Even in the case of a force trauma to a muscle, bone or ligament, staying passive in your healing process can lead to lengthier recovery times.  Remember that inflammation process?  Well depending on our diets, lifestyle habits or even our daily routines we could inadvertently extend that inflammation much longer than it’s intended purpose.  The result is that our bodies cannot shuttle away the dead and damaged tissue from our injury site.  When this happens we develop a buildup of waste, scar tissue or other byproducts of our injury that keep us from regaining the mobility, strength and flexibility of our pre-injury state.  The only way to remove those obstacles is often manual intervention in the form of anti-inflammatories, massage or physical therapy that regains our previous movement patterns rather than developing unhealthy compensations for our reduced range-of-motion.  Trying to jump back into workouts without those patterns can either set us back or set us UP for future injuries!

It’s always best to listen to your coach when trying to overcome any type of injury.  If we tell you to stay off of it, WE DEFINITELY mean it!  And if we refer you to a professional (be it a doctor, massage therapist, urgent care, or anything else) it’s because we think you need the extra assistance beyond what your body is capable of doing itself. 

Never take an injury with a “wait and see” attitude, with Motiv8 you will always have the resources and support to ensure you take an active role in your recovery!  

Stay Motiv8ed!

~ Coach Joe

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