“More is not necessarily better”. This is especially true for exercise, especially for athletes and individuals trying to elevate performance. Stress drives adaptation, but too much (chronic) stress can drive negative adaptation and a reduction in fitness. How then do we find balance to achieve optimal performance and results? For one, working with an experienced coach is critical, one who understands the relationship between rest and stress and who monitors progress over time.
Today we are going to touch on some recovery protocols that you can begin to implement into your regimen. These will not just help to recover from workouts but also recover from everyday life stressors.
Balance the nervous system
Many people go through life without properly balancing the nervous system. These individuals continually stress their sympathetic nervous system without taking periods of recovery and shifting into a parasympathetic state. In past blogs, we have talked in detail about the nervous system because it is so critical to longevity and health. Living in a stressed (sympathetic) state has cascade effects altering our physiology and negatively impacting our health. Thus, it is crucial to balance these two systems when looking to improve recovery.
Meditation can aid in reducing stress by helping you shift into a calming state of mind. In a parasympathetic state our body is in rest and digest mode and can begin the recovery process.
Get better sleep!
Sleep is the most crucial factor determining health, brain function (memory, creativity, learning), recovery, hormone function, body fat levels, inflammation and immune system. See the blog article for sleep tips.
Improve your nutrition
Nutrition is another major component for improving recovery. Thus, some simple protocols to improve recovery are to reduce sugars, inflammatory oils as well as processed and fried foods.
Contrast showers can help flush lactic acid, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation. Try doing 1-minute hot, 1-minute cold for 5 minutes, or 30 seconds hot 30 seconds cold.
Saunas are a great tool for recovery and can help flush toxins, increase blood flow and aid in muscle relaxation.
Eat sulfur rich foods
Sulfur rich foods are important for the cardiovascular system, muscle function, and the nervous system. It is important to eat foods like fibrous non-leafy green vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts.
It is important to get in contact with the Earth. When we get in contact with the earth our body absorbs free electrons (negative ions) through our feet. The absorption of free electrons can reduce inflammation, pain and even improve sleep.
You do not have to implement all these protocols at once, but each one can be a valuable tool when trying to optimize recovery!