SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE and RECOVERY

 In Exercise Techniques, Sport Science, Uncategorized

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SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE and RECOVERY

Training Crossfit for 3-5 days a week is by no means an easy task for your body. You will become familiar with DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness) which will usually follow 24-72 hours after an intense workout (it usually comes just when you thought you managed to avoid it this time). DOMS is caused by micro-trauma to your muscles following a workout. Don’t panic, this is part of normal adaptation of your body to exercise.

While avoiding DOMS is difficult, there are things you can (and will have to) do both in and outside the gym to promote your recovery and to support high levels of physical performance. Following list is by no means complete but will provide you with a decent toolbox to use in your path to elite fitness.

THE ESSENTIALS

1. Sleep

Get a minimum 7 preferably 8 ½ – 9 ½ hrs a night in complete darkness (no lights from mobiles or alarm clocks flashing in the room). 7 hours from 10pm to 5am is better than 7 hours from 12pm to 7am. If this is not doable, try to take a nap during the day. Anything between 15 minutes to 2 hours is good, depending on your needs / possibilities.

2. Eat real foods

We advocate the paleo approach (organic meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar). Once you’ve got this down comfortably and want to take your performance to the next level we recommend you start controlling macronutrient ratios by applying Zone diet principles into your eating plan.

3. Keep yourself hydrated

Our bodies require a minimum amount of clean, pure, natural water each day to maintain a good level of hydration. Notice the emphasis on water and not coffee, tea or soft drinks (never mention alcohol). This is especially important for people following a high intensity training program such as one provided at Crossfit Dublin .

Your estimated daily water requirement is 1.25 litres per 30kg of bodyweight. E.g. 60kg athlete would need 2.5 litres of water per day to maintain adequate hydration. Add a small pinch of sea salt to every litre of water you consume in order to maintain a good electrolyte balance.

4. Eat a PWO (post-workout) meal

You’ve just kicked your ass by completing the WOD (workout of the day); your body needs the building blocks for recovery. Your PWO meal should contain relatively high glycemic index carbohydrates (e.g. sweet potato) and some lean protein consumed ideally within 30 minutes after the WOD. By eliminating fats (slowest to digest) from this meal you ensure fast delivery of essential nutrients to your body and will recover faster.

5. Take your fish oil

Numerous studies have shown that taking a fish oil supplement will help reduce inflammation in the body (and hence speed up your recovery from workouts). Not only that but it will also help you lose body fat faster. Start with 1-3 grams a day (about 1.25-1.5:1 EPA to DHA ratio) of pharmaceutical quality fish oil in either liquid (better) or capsular form.

Some good choices include: Eskimo-3 Liquid stable fish oil and Nature’s answer Platinum Liquid Omega-3 Fish Oil (my choice).

6. Take it easy

Part of being a smart athlete is knowing when to rest or to scale the workouts down. Having a stressful week at work or home? Feeling beaten up by last couple of workouts? Not getting enough sleep? Be smart, take a day off or come around, let your trainer know that you’re not feeling 100% and we’ll scale the workout to appropriate level for you.

I’ve got this down, what do I do next?

1. Cool-down

Fight the urge to just collapse after a workout! Try walking around (or cheering the ones who haven’t finished their workout yet) and then move on to doing some dynamic stretches and joint mobility exercises until your heart rate falls down back to normal. Easy? No, but you will thank yourself the following day for doing this.

2. Stay active

So, you’ve just beaten the hell out of your body and now you’re heading back to office to sit for 8 or more hours in a row. Sounds like a plan if you’re aiming for shortened hip flexors and some serious DOMS (delayed-onset-muscular-soreness) tomorrow. Try to take regular breaks and just walk around for couple minutes (even if it’s just to get a cup of coffee), maybe add in some quick stretches in there as well. How about busting out 10 nice and deep squats in the office to scare your work mates out (or get them to join you)?

3. Stretch

Stretching will not safe you from DOMS but increasing the range of movement in your joints will help you perform better in the workouts and help prevent injuries caused by lack of flexibility. Spending 10-15 minutes in the middle of the day or in the evening on stretching (focusing on stiff areas of your body) will pay itself back big time at the gym.

4. Spend time with your family and friends

Really, this will help reduce the amount of stress hormones (cortisol) in your system and therefore enhance your ability to recover from the workouts.

5. Contrast bathe

While not necessarily pleasant at first, contrast bathing will improve superficial blood flow and can help with muscle relaxation. Easiest way to get started is to alternate cold (10-16°C) and warm (35-37°C) water while having a shower. Always start and finish with cold, alternating 3-4 times, with 30-60 seconds of cold followed by 1-2 minutes of warm water. Do not shower your head with cold water as this will invariably lead to nasty headaches!

6. Get some soft tissue therapy

Getting good soft tissue therapy from a qualified practitioner (osteopaths, sports therapists, ART practitioners) can make a worlds difference on your performance, especially if you have any old, nagging, injuries. Releasing tight tissues will not only relief pain but will also increase your range of movement when training.

If you cannot afford this then using a foam roller is your second best option (although not coming even close to a good pair of hands). Make sure you get advice on proper use of a foam roller in order to avoid any self-inflicted injuries.

A guide on self-myofascial release is coming up soon..

If you have any questions regarding the above information, do not hesitate to come talk to one of our instructors for more advice. Always consult your GP before applying any of the above information if you suffer from any serious illnesses.

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