Allow Your Body to Recover Like a Professional Athlete

Look no further than NBA or WNBA games and you’ll see athletes using various tools on the sidelines trying to help their bodies recover. Following NFL games, football players are known for taking ice baths, getting massages, hitting the pool and rolling out to aid recovery. Of course, all the critical recovery work begins in the locker room following a game.

Professional teams invest a ton of money on strength & conditioning coaches, nutritionist, massage therapist, yoga gurus, you name it. I have known more than one person who works with professional athletes doing massage. All to help improve performance, yes, but also to help athletes recover from the cumulative stress of practices and games.

Allow your body to recover like a professional athlete. You may not be able to have a cryotherapy chamber in your home like Lebron James does. But you can use the following recovery products regularly, just like he and other athletes do.

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Rolling Tools: Foam Roller, Tennis/Lacrosse Balls, T-Pin Vector

There is a great deal of research showing positive outcomes when someone uses a foam roller as a recovery tool. These types of products work on releasing tight, restrictive fascia and muscle. Fascia, along with tendons and ligaments, are what make up the bodies connective tissue. Muscles that are tight are not only an accident waiting to happen, they also impede performance. A tight athlete does not see the field as much as the bench, because they’re usually dealing with injuries.

All of these recovery “tools” mentioned are not very expensive and do a great job helping the body recover. In the long run, you end up getting a lot of bang for your buck with each of these products.

Foam Roller

Foam rollers have been gaining popularity since hitting the mainstream years back thanks to physical therapists. Make a habit of committing time rolling out all your major muscle groups every time you workout. Start by rolling your calf muscles before moving up to the hamstrings, glutes and back. Then flip over and roll the lower leg, quadriceps and chest. Spend about 2-3 minutes rolling out each of these muscle groups at a rate one inch per second. When you come across a tight area, stop rolling and just stay on it, allowing the pressure from your bodyweight and foam roller to knead into the fascia.

Use Tennis, Lacrosse, Golf Balls to Recover

You probably already have a few of these items lying around the house. Grab one of these balls and just sit on it. Try rolling out your tight glutes, eventually transitioning to your side targeting your glute medius. Magic! Right? Next, place two tennis balls in a sock and make sure both balls are tight together. This becomes an instant deep tissue massage product. It works great when you lie on the balls – known as a “peanut” – and rollout your cervical, thoracic and lumbar areas. Let the balls push into or knead your paraspinal muscles (also known as your erector spinae). Rollout about an inch/second, traveling from your cervical down to your lumbar spine area. As you hit a tight area (“trigger point”), stop, breath and relax into it, and hang out there for a few minutes before proceeding. You may need to commit more time initially using these tools in order to bring back your body to its original “healthy” state.

T-Pin Vector

This is a favorite product for a lot of people. The T-Pin Vector might not be very big (pictured above on the right) but it is ideal for getting into small, tight areas on your body. This product also works amazingly well when targeting the neck and feet, say bye-bye to plantar fasciitis.

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Recovery Tools: Massage Guns, Heating Pads, Compression Sleeves

Massage Guns

Massage guns are one of the hottest recovery tools on the market today. I have personally tried a few, like Theragun and Hyperice (pictured above left). To get the most benefit, use them as part of your dynamic warm-up prior to a workout as well as post workout to help promote recover. Hyperice also has a great app associated with their products that include informational tutorials from industry experts like Kelly Starret, DPT.

Heating Pads & Wraps

Heating pads can used to promote blood flow to help release tight, stiff areas of the body. Some companies like, Hyperice, have even combined heat with vibration technology found in their line of Venom products (above right photo).

Compression Sleeves

You have seen runners, basketball players and others wear compression sleeves on either their arm and/or leg. A leg compression sleeve basically uses graduated pressure to aid in easing discomfort and pain. They are an effective treatment for restless leg syndrome, shin splints, leg cramps, plantar fasciitis, among other conditions.

Many different companies have now gotten into the game following the same premise but offering more high tech. Some products like Hyperice Normatec (pictured above middle) is bluetooth connected, offers seven different intensity levels, and you can customize the areas of the body part regarding time and pressure.

We have introduced just a few products that can help your body recover that are popular in the fitness industry today. There are many other traditional and high tech products that are also available depending on your budget. For those looking to keep it simple, though, you can stick to cryotherapy (ice bucket, ice packs or ice baths post workout). In addition, use a foam roller often as a preventative measure and don’t forget about a really beneficial, old school treatment. It is typically for your feet but also great for the entire body, an Epsom salt soak mixed in warm water. This product is inexpensive, works wonders after a long run, after a tough workout or when you’re on your feet all day.

Try the Award-Winning Jefit App

Try Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and features to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your sustainable fitness lifestyle.

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4 Reasons You Have Low Energy at the Gym

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Despite what sport or workout you do, recovery is crucial. Without taking the time to rest and recover, you risk overtraining and making yourself more prone to low energy and injury. You’ll also feel not as great as if you’ve had the proper rest that you need. So how do recovery methods differ for each workout? Find out here.

Different Recovery Methods to Avoid Low Energy

How to Recover from Cardio

Hydration is key to help avoid low energy. You sweat a lot from moderate to intense cardio so make sure that you replace lost fluid. If you weren’t drinking water throughout your workout either, drink even more.

If you’ve only done moderate level cardio, then It’s best to stay away from sports drinks that are marketed towards athletes. These drinks contain high levels of added sugar that aren’t needed for moderate workouts.

You can drink these sports drinks and other liquids with electrolytes after longer cardio sessions.

How to Recover from HIIT

HIIT, or High Intense Interval Training, consists of short bursts of extreme exercise followed by rest break. This definitely gets your heart ramping up a lot quicker than LISS or moderate exercise. You’ll also be burning calories after your workout thanks to a process called post-exercise oxygen consumption. EPOC refers to the amount of oxygen it takes to restore your body to its normal state. HIIT boosts this process.

As well as drinking fluids and making sure that you’re hydrated, make sure you eat a meal rich in carbs and protein (3:1 ratio is ideal). This way, you are feeding your body the fuel it needs by letting your muscles grow and restore glycogen stores.

HIIT is very taxing on the body so it is best to give yourself one full day in between to recover. Doing it every day or even multiple times a day can really increase your risk of overtraining. Do yourself a favor, and take a break in order to avoid bouts of low energy from too much intense exercise.

How to Recover from Running

After a run, you would have sweat quite a bit. So, surprise, surprise, you will need to restore your fluids. Water and/or electrolytes is your number one priority. Believe it or not, chocolate milk is one of the best post-running drink/snack that you can have. It embodies the 3:1 carb to protein ratio that you need, and of course, it’s delicious.

Have a well-balanced snack or meal as well.

Just remember to incorporate rest days into your schedule. Running puts a lot of stress and pressure on your joints, so it’s crucial to give them a break. At least one rest day a week is ideal, and maybe even two.

If you find it difficult to take a break, it doesn’t mean that you have to be sedentary the entire day. Go for a walk, or do some low-impact activities. Swimming is a great one because it takes the stress off your joints, while still allowing you to get some exercise in.

How to Recover from Strength Training

As strength training focuses primarily on building your muscles, you’ll need to make sure you consume protein and a good amount of carbs after a workout. You would have depleted your muscle stores so it’s important to refuel. This will aid in recovery, help avoid low energy, as well as promote muscle growth.

You’ll also need to ensure that you drink water and have a good, filling meal. Stick to the 3:1 carbohydrate/protein ratio to maximize recovery. You have probably heard the perfect recovery drink with this exact ratio is chocolate milk.

The recovery times and rest days in between strength training greatly depends on your workout schedule. If you split your days between muscle groups, such as back, shoulders, legs, etc, then you can get away with training 5-6 days with one rest day in the week.

If you train the same muscle group in a row, give yourself at least a days rest in between to recover.

Just Listen to Your Body

While the general rule of thumb is to give the same muscle group a rest day, minimum, in between workouts. Otherwise, you risk overtraining. And at the end of the day, just listen to your body. If you’re feeling the effects of training that transcends beyond normal DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), then take a break. You won’t ruin your progress by taking a couple of days off, in fact, you’ll probably help it. Use a foam roller post workout to help recover faster and help with DOMS.

Make sure that you always warm up before your workout and stretch afterwards. It’ll facilitate the muscle recovery process and help to speed it up. It might be a good idea to foam roll as well. This will lessen the recovery times for each activtity.

Workout with Jefit

Track your training, record your progress, and customize your workout plan with Jefit. Jefit is a workout log app that provides you with all the tools you need to hit your fitness goals. We even have a members-only Facebook group where you can connect with like-minded people and share fitness and nutrition tips and advice.

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A Foam Roller is an Affordable & Versatile Product

There are literally hundreds of fitness products you can choose to use. There is one product, however, that won’t break the bank, reduces stiffness, and can be used either at home or in the gym. The product is a foam roller. Not only is it affordable, it’s extremely versatile in the right hands. The foam roller gained popularity back in the 1980’s thanks to a physical therapist who brought it into the mainstream from the world of clinical rehabilitation.

Why use a foam roller? Because it can be used to prepare the body for exercise, it’s a great recovery aid, effective as a massage tool, improves mobility, and keeps connective tissue, like fascia, healthy.

Use a Foam Roller as Part of Your Dynamic Warm-up

Before your next strength workout try incorporating a few dynamic warm-up movements. Then use a foam roller for 5-10 minutes, to “roll-out” some tight areas, and see how you feel afterwards. More importantly, notice the difference in the way you feel during your workout. We have a tendency to sit for prolonged periods of time throughout the day. As a result, muscles and connective tissue become tight and restricted. Overtime, this negatively affects your posture, the way you move, and how you perform in workouts! Regular bouts of foam rolling can help offset these issues and more.

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Incorporate a Foam Roller into Your Recovery Process

Another benefit of using a foam roller is it has the potential to help the body recover faster from a workout. Foam rolling can decrease the “perception of pain” that the body may be experiencing from overtraining. It targets the myofascial network in the body, helping to reduce trigger points and release restrictive connective tissue and muscle.

The body has a tendency to experience delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from an intense workout. A 2015 study in the Journal of Athletic Training suggested that foam rolling after intense exercise is a great way to reduce soreness and help with recovery. The study looked at college-aged males and showed those who foam rolled post exercise, were able to perform better at 24, 48 and 72 hours after exercise that induces soreness. And a comprehensive review published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy reported foam rolling promotes short-term increases in range of motion.

Finally, a meta-analysis, published in the Frontiers in Physiology (2019) showed foam rolling had a positive effect on performance and recovery. This particular review of 21 research studies and 451 subjects, also showed better results were exhibited during a warm-up phase rather than as a recovery component of an exercise session.

Foam rolling is not the be-all-end-all when it comes to fitness products but you can definitely benefit from regular use, before and/or after a workout. Give it a try and experience the benefits yourself.

Use the Award-Winning Jefit App

Jefit was recently named one of the best fitness apps by eftm.com and PC Magazine for 2021. Jefit is a workout app for gym and home. It helps you plan and stick to your workouts on a regular basis. While there are already over 3800 complete training routines available, it also comes with a customizable gym workout planner. This way you can personalize your own regime that works with your specific fitness goals. Stay strong!

References

Pearcey, G.E.P., Bradbury-Squires, D.J., Kawamoto, J.E., Drinkwater, E.J., Behm, D.G. & Button, D.C. (2015). Foam rolling for delayed-onset muscle soreness and recovery of dynamic performance measures. Journal of Athletic Training, 50(1): 5-13.

Cheatham, S.W., Kolber, M.J., Cain, M., & Lee M. (2015). The effects of self‐myofascial release using a foam roll or roller massager on joint range of motion, muscle recovery, and performance: a systematic review. Int J Sports Phys Ther., 10(6): 827–838.

Wiewelhove, T., et al. (2019). A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Foam Rolling on Performance and Recovery. Front. in Physiol. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.00376



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Are You Focusing Enough on Mobility in Workouts?

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You should not experience joint pain when you perform activities of daily living (known as ADL’s). How does your body feel during a typical day? Do you feel pain when you move your hips, shoulders or knees through their full range of motion? Take the shoulder joint as an example. When you perform shoulder flexion, extension, rotation, or for that matter internal or external rotation, are those movements pain free? Do you have joint pain when working out? If pain is present, there may be an issue with the mobility of that joint.

What is Mobility?

In order to better understand mobility you first have to grasp what flexibility is. Flexibility is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to stretch when needed. Conversely, mobility is the ability of a joint to actively move through its expected range of motion. Both flexibility and mobility change over the course of time. Think of both as nourishment for your body; flexibility keeps the muscles happy and healthy while good mobility leads to happy and healthy joints, like your hips and spine. When moving and doing any type of activity, good flexibility and mobility are associated with pain free movement in the muscles and joints respectively.

Never Enough Time for Mobility

When you go for a run or have a great strength training session, you feel the benefits of each immediately. This may not be the case, at times, for mobility. You need to put the time in each day to work on improving mobility now so it continues to pay back dividends as you age. Take 5-10 minutes before each workout and work on the areas that you feel like your lacking mobility.

Begin with areas on your body where you experience the most pain. This along with limited joint range of motion are key ingredients that will eventually lead to dysfunction and it needs your attention, now!

Check for Mobility Issues with Simple Testing

A previous Jefit blog post looked at the pressure placed on the back when sitting, standing and walking. Read that post to better understand how heavy loads placed on the body can effect the spine. Keep in mind you can kill two birds with one stone here, start using mobility drills to act first as a warm-up while also working on mobility.

Apley’s Scratch Test

  • To test your mobility of your right shoulder, stand up and raise your left arm straight above your head (see picture below).
  • Flex your left elbow placing your left palm on the upper back and neck area, then slide it down between your shoulder blades.
  • Take your right hand and reach behind your body so the top part of your hand rests on the middle of your back.
  • Reach down with your left hand while reaching up with your right. The goal is to try to touch the fingers of both hands together.
  • Have someone measure the distance between your fingertips. If your fingers are touching or overlapping, record that as good.
  • Now switch arms and test your opposite shoulder.
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Right shoulder Apley Scratch Test – testing shoulder mobility

If you’re like me and have a few inches of separation between your fingers (see picture above), you need to work on improving shoulder mobility. Begin by using a foam roller regularly to rollout the upper back and shoulder areas. Hanging from a pull-up bar with both hands, progress to single-arm hangs for 15-30 seconds and repeat for a few sets. Next, stretch the shoulder capsule daily performing a posterior capsule stretch followed by a tricep stretch. You can use a yoga strap to help stretch and close the gap between your fingers. This is a good first step before adding in occasional vibration work, massage and myofascial release.

Kneeling Thoracic Mobility

The mid-back or thoracic spine (T-spine) is an area that is restricted in most people especially those who do a great deal of sitting or driving. The key here is to first release any tight fascia around the mid back area. The best bet is to perform foam rolling or “rolling out” on taped tennis balls or a lacrosse ball. After loosening the area, try the following mobility drill. If you have difficulty or feel “resistance” rotating your body while moving your elbow up towards the ceiling, you need to work on T-spine mobility.

  • Start in a quadruped position (on all fours).
  • Touch your left hand to the left side of your head.
  • Exhale. As you breath in rotate your body and raise that left elbow up towards the ceiling, keeping the hand in contact with the head throughout.
  • As you’re doing this, push the right into the floor. Think about your mid-back during this dynamic movement.
  • Slowly return to the starting position, following your breath. Move to the speed of your inhale/exhale. Repeat for repetitions.

Simple Hip Mobility Test

The area that many people have trouble with is hip mobility. Mobility issues or dysfunction in this area typically leads to other major issues like back-related problems. A good first step is to add in hip mobility drills as part of your dynamic warm-up prior to every strength or cardio workout. Then foam roll 5-10 minutes hitting the upper thigh before lying side ways to roll the gluteus medius. Finally, position yourself on the foam roller to target the inner thigh and roll out that area before lying supine rolling out your gluteus maximus. Then try this quick test to assess hip mobility.

  • Sit tall in a chair with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Without using your hands, see if you can lift and cross your right leg over your left? Then try the same on the opposite side (you should be able to).
  • After attempting that, position the right ankle above your left knee that is bent (like in the picture below).
  • Take a few deep breaths in/out and relax.
  • Now take a look at the angle of the right leg that is crossed.
  • If the leg feels comfortable and drops below a 45-degree angle or is parallel to the floor, you’re in good shape.
  • Most people, however, will have a 45-degree angle or greater and feel tightness in the hip complex. Is so, you guessed it…work on hip mobility.
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A quick and easy hip mobility test

These are just three of the many tests you can do on yourself to assess where you’re at mobility wise. Mobility work must become a component of your weekly exercise routine. There may be days where your body just needs to skip a workout and rollout and work on mobility drills. Your body and performance will love you for it. Stay strong and mobile with Jefit.

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