“You are what you can recover from” – Vince Del Monte
Your progress depends on your body’s ability to recover properly. All positive changes happen when you rest not while doing the actual workout. Exercise “damages” the muscles by creating microtraumas and challenging different physiological systems to regenerate by targeting different energy systems. Since we cannot separate the body from the mind, strenuous exercises place emotional and mental stress as well.
In the previous post, I talked about transmutation period and activities related to that period. As mentioned, transmutation period is hugely stressful for our body. Therefore introducing proper recovery techniques is vital if we want to avoid overtraining and decreased performance level. The methods mentioned in this post can be successfully implemented in-between training sessions, as well as, after a tournament. We can all agree that the past karate season was pretty packed, where competitions were held almost every second if not every week. And it will stay like this and might even get crazier as we approach the 2020 Olympic Games.
Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention and implement adequate recovery techniques. Below you can find four inexpensive and easy to use methods that can facilitate your recovery and allow your body to perform at it’s best.
A foam roller is a tool that most of us are familiar with. However, it’s still an underused tool that can help you to recover faster by treating tight spots on your body that contribute to muscle stiffness and lack of mobility. Stretching is important, and we can’t deny that. However, if you’ve noticed a muscle knot somewhere on your calf muscle or hamstring, and try to get rid of it by stretching, you are making a big mistake. Instead, you should dig deep into the tissue with a foam roller and stay on the trigger point for some time until you notice it’s gone. Then you should stretch. Why? Imagine a knot on an elastic band. If you try to get rid of it by pulling the sides of the elastic band, the knot will get smaller and tighter. Although I am oversimplifying, it shows the point. The foal roller can be part of your cooldown, as well as, warmup routine. I have experience with the Trigger Point foam roller. However, you can also try the Rumble Roller, which is something many sport and wellness experts and enthusiasts talk about lately.
Now, this might not be applicable while traveling, unless you have the mini trigger point foam roller or big suitcase. If this is the situation, then you might consider getting a massage ball. I do not any have particular on, but instead, I use a softball (since I am a PE teacher I do have a bunch of them) to treat tight spots around my shoulder blades and dig deep in the glute muscle.
On the picture is my home mobility kit for treating any discomfort on my body. You can notice that a have put two softballs together in a sock for handling the small muscles along the spine. You can do the same thing using tennis balls.
People share a different opinion about the effectiveness of foam rolling and the way it is performed. So the video above is just a starting point and give a picture of how it looks like if you do not have previous experience. Other websites that have valuable information are:
Although both methods share information for improving your movement and recovery, they approach the problem with different philosophy and point of view. Having both sides of the coin is nice.
Many athletes use compression gear. It provides a feeling of increased stability and control over your bodies. Some people say they perform better while feeling their legs and arms lighter. And that is a legit observation. Compression gear increase body’s ability to recover by increasing blood flow to the muscles, helping restore muscle glycogen level and clearing metabolic waste produced during high-intensity training. Compression gear can be used during and after exercise, as well as while traveling. Since it increases blood flow, you will feel less sore and stiff after you get off the airplane where you spend a lot of time in a seated position. People have different opinions and experiences about which sports brand has better compression gear. Adidas and Under Armor are two most used brands, which is available everywhere you are. If you want to take the game to another level and have some extra money to spend, 110% Play Harder is something you might be interested in. This is compression gear that has ice pockets, which will enhance the recovery process.
Everyone has seen people laying on the floor with their legs elevated against a wall. Usually, after a workout where the primary muscles were leg muscles, you get a fantastic feeling by raising and shaking your legs. This works and is an excellent way to make heavy legs a little bit lighter and maybe even get rid of the tension and pressure in your knees and ankle joint and spine.
To get more benefit of turning things upside down, besides your legs you can get your entire body in an inversion position. And why would you want to do such a thing and look like a bat? Here are the reasons:
- Inversion can help with back and neck pain.
- Inversion can enhance the recovery after a high-intensity workout.
- Inversion helps in increasing blood circulation, and that way supporting recovery.
- Inversion can increase the lymph fluid circulation.
- Inversion can assist in keeping your disks healthy and separated by deloading your spine after high impact workouts.
There are two possible low budget solutions:
Using transdermal magnesium for recovery and enhancing your performance
Magnesium is essential mineral taking in consideration it’s responsible for regulating the work of over 300 chemical reactions in the human body. It’s been shown that magnesium prevents muscles soreness, muscle cramping, enhances the immune system and improves sleep. These are health-related benefits that most of the people are familiar and trying to get by orally supplementing with magnesium.
What we are interested in is how it can improve performance and facilitate recovery.
During work out, there is an accumulation of calcium ions from muscle tearing. Magnesium helps in taking those calcium ions outside of the muscles.
Magnesium can also play a significant role in keeping and even increasing the testosterone level. A study has shown a 30% increase in testosterone level when supplementing with magnesium and zinc. And the benefits go on and on. Magnesium deficiency contributes toward increased oxidative stress, reduced metabolic efficiency, increases oxygen consumption and heart rate during physical activities.
Where all this reduction in work capacity comes from? One reason is connected with the ATP. You know, the only currency our body can use for working properly. So after deriving the ATP from creatine phosphate, glycolytic or oxidative energy system, that same ATP must be bind to a magnesium ion to be biologically available.
Magnesium is present in every cell. ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) is the major unit of energy produced in the body, but ATP is actually Magnesium–ATP. All enzymes that create or use ATP require Magnesium ions. Deficiency of Magnesium means that energy cannot be produced and tiredness and fatigue result.
Before you shove a needle in you vain and try to get it intravenous, which might be a solution in extreme cases, best application is by using transdermal (topical) magnesium and taking it in a tablet. This way, you can safely increase the dosage and avoid a gastrointestinal discomfort.
The most vulnerable population between karatekas are those who compete in kumite and are challenged by their weight. Constant dieting, followed by lack of nutrition and strenuous exercises where lots of fluids are lost (together with electrolytes), put the athletes in great danger of inadequate magnesium levels. This can be avoided by using transdermal magnesium in the form of magnesium chloride bath flakes or applying magnesium lotion and gel.
This does not mean that you should stop taking magnesium orally. Supplementing with good, high-quality magnesium is still recommended.
Wrapping it up
Whether you compete in kata or kumite, trying to keep the pace with all the tournament and strenuous workouts that accompany this journey, using recovery methods is of great importance. Something you can consider implementing is:
- Using a foam roller at the beginning and at the end of your workout to get rid of muscle knots, decrease muscle stiffness and increase mobility.
- Wearing compression gear during a workout and while traveling will enhance your recovery by increasing blood flow, clearing metabolic waste produced during high-intensity training and decreasing muscle soreness and stiffness.
- Inversion helps with blood circulation and increase in lymph fluid circulation.
- Using transdermal (topical) magnesium is a great way to target the most affected parts of the body and facilitate recovery.
What about you
What are some recovery techniques you find useful and practical? Did you find this helpful? Please, leave your thought in the comments
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