Athletes reach elite status by performing at peak levels as frequently as possible. Repairing their bodies after strenuous activity is critical for sustaining high level performance.
The recovery phase restores the body to full strength and also allows for growth. Protein is synthesized, torn fibers are repaired to build new muscle, and the body becomes faster, stronger, and healthier after recovering from this stress.
The best athletes understand that recovery and performance are directly connected, and they take them both very seriously.
If you’re looking to maximize your performance and compete at the highest level, we’ve got 5 secret recovery methods of top-performing athletes that you need to consider.
Elite athletes like LeBron James as well as actors like Hugh Jackman – aka Wolverine from X-Men – uses cryotherapy to train harder and recover faster between workouts and games.
Using low temperatures is nothing new. Whole-body cryotherapy is an ice bath taken to the extreme. The cryo chamber temperature is lowered to -180 F° to -220 F°, and athletes stand inside for approximately 90 seconds. Originally designed for medical use, athletes now use cryotherapy to help maximize recovery.
A study found that athletes who soaked in a 50-degree Fahrenheit bathtub after 90 minutes of training reported less soreness than those who didn’t use the low temp recovery method.
“Randomised studies have shown cold water immersion (the ice-bath equivalent of cryotherapy) is better than doing nothing after sport because it reduced muscle soreness by 10-15%.” – Dr. Chris Bleakley, Sports Scientist at University of Ulster Sports Academy
Science is still debating whether cryotherapy actually repairs damaged tissue, but even reduced soreness and inflammation will improve recovery and performance.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) saturates the organs with 100% pure oxygen to help improve recovery.
Michael Phelps slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber while training for the 2008 Olympics. Numerous NFL players swear they heal injuries faster using hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
By increasing the pressure of oxygen in the chamber, oxygen is spread through blood plasma and bodily fluids. HBOT brings fresh oxygen to organs and tissues by way of harmless diffusion.
This helps alleviate pain and minimize training stresses by delivering restorative adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to muscles. This flushes lactic acid from muscles in order to accelerate recovery. Ultimately, more oxygen-rich blood boosts healing.
Also called hyperthermic training, infrared saunas are the evolution of centuries-old science.
Instead of heated water, infrared saunas use infrared light to warm the tissues and rejuvenate the body.
As early as 1989, studies found sauna use to increase levels of human growth hormone (HGH) post-exercise, effectively boosting protein synthesis, muscle growth, and recovery. Studies have also found traditional sauna use improves endurance running performance, likely due to increased blood volume in the body.
Recent research confirms that modern infrared saunas produce similar effects in neuromuscular recovery systems in the body. By improving the body’s ability to thermoregulate under heated conditions, this improves restorative processes after high-stress physical activity to further overall performance.
Heat therapy is proven effective at improving rates of recovery and increasing training potential.
Soft-tissue massage is a popular method to decrease training recovery time and enhance muscle growth.
Pressure from the massage motion applies a suction to muscles. When removed, the massaged area vasodilates, which increases circulation in hard-worked tissues.
To best repair torn muscle fibers, blood flow must be maximized. Massage loosens tight, post-workout muscle groups to improve the availability of blood-borne nutrients needed for recovery.
Because strength adaption occurs during the recovery phase, relaxed muscles facilitate greater muscle repair. Massage optimizes vascular circulation and maximizes gains in lean muscle mass.
As science progresses, proper nutrition proves to be the best way to maximize training recovery.
- For fast hydration, coconut water provides both carbs and critical electrolytes like potassium. Studies show potassium is critical to synthesizing proteins for tissue regeneration and metabolic equilibrium after exercise.
- Ideal protein intake is an effortless way to ensure post-workout recovery. Protein is essential to muscle growth, so consume 20-30 grams within 30 minutes of completing your workout, training session, practice or game to promote muscle gains and recovery. Whey protein also enhances levels of the antioxidant glutathione in order to deliver maximum amino acids for muscle growth.
- Superfood antioxidants like glutathione and wheatgrass are proven to minimize inflammation after workouts and reduce the impact of oxidative stress. Because wheatgrass is high in chlorophyll, it fights the inflammatory effects of lactic acid in torn muscle fibers. Less lactic acids translates into a faster return to peak muscle potential and mobility.
For an instantaneous boost, align your recovery process with the best in nutritional science.
Over to You
Leading athletes look for competitive advantages every day by maximizing their recovery. They not only reduce their risk of injury, but also heal faster so they can train harder. Balancing performance against recovery is key to optimizing your training and success.
To enhance your post-workout recovery program instantly, grab a post-training recovery booster.