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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How to Return Safely to the Gym Following Time Off

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Just about everyone has felt like their life has been turned upside down over the last six months resulting from the pandemic. Moreover, everyone is now looking for ways to get back to their regular routine and that includes exercise. We all want to get back at it and we want to return safely to the gym. If there was ever a time to reap the psychological and physiological benefits of aerobic exercise and strength training it would be now!

This article will address how to return safely to the gym from an exercise standpoint rather than from a gym safety pandemic point of view.

How Quickly Does the Body Begin Detraining?

The body begins to lose cardio and strength gains made at the gym in as little as 2-3 weeks. The good news, though, is any gains lost due to time off can be redeveloped quickly. As long as you’ve been healthy. You can typically maintain strength levels for 3-4 week after a hiatus. Where you really begin to see the effects of missing workouts though is with the loss of muscle mass. This can occur in as fast as 3 weeks. The key is to always listen to your body before/during/after workouts. If you need to back off on the weight or mileage during a workout because you don’t feel 100 percent, then do so. If you experience any stiffness, tightness or pain, that’s your bodies way of telling you to back off and watch out.

Gradually Increase Workout Volume

When starting out or coming back from a hiatus, strive for 20-60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise according to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines. On the strength side, aim for 1-2 sets of an exercise using 12-15 repetitions with moderate resistance. As time moves forward, slowly decrease the amount of repetitions while increasing the amount of resistance and the number of sets. Increase the amount of resistance each week by about 10 percent for lower body and 5 percent for upper body exercises once you’re able to reach 12 repetitions. Begin with bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges and split squats before moving to machines or free weights. In both instances, 3 days a week is plenty, eventually progressing that to 4-5 days if and when needed.

Pay Special Attention to Recovery

On the off days you’re not strength training focus more on stretching and mobility. In addition, spend time on your foam roller to release any tight muscles and connective tissue. Also try using a recovery product like Hyperice to help in that area. In fact, think about adding a few days of either yoga, stretching or a mobility class to your weekly routine. If you like to run, closely monitor your weekly mileage building it back up slowly.

Document Your Workouts

A valuable tool is documenting how your time is spent in the gym or at home during each workout session. Monitoring training volume (sets x reps. x load) on a daily and weekly basis will help prevent overtraining and you’ll get better gains. Research has shown that you’re 2-3 times more likely to stick to a new habit when a plan is in place and a record is kept. To help you plan, log and track your strength training workouts, download the award-winning Jefit app. One of the great training tools featured on the Jefit app is the ability to record 1-RM for each exercise. In fact, if you come back after time off, choose a lighter percentage of your 1-RM initially before building back up slowly. This will help keep overtraining type injuries at bay. Stay Strong!

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