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If you’re a busy athlete, or are looking for ways to give your body some love, these are worth giving a try!
Having spent years providing care for pro athletes, I've learned firsthand what it takes to help our bodies recover.
I put a high demand on my own body with marathon and strength training. However, I’m also a mom with a 2+ hour work commute. I often find myself KNOWING HOW to enhance recovery, yet facing limited time to ACTUALLY do so.
Well, last summer my Doctor handed me diagnoses and blood work results that made it clear my body was having a hard time recovering on its own. Now, more than ever, I HAD to find realistic ways to maximize recovery or I wouldn't be able to continue all activities I love!
Below I’ll share some of the simple, effective, and less time demanding ways I have found to help my body recover from my training and work commute. (Yes, all that extra sitting adds unhealthy stress on my body, too!)
1. SOFT TISSUE THERAPY
As a Massage Therapist, I 110% believe a skilled professional can help us revamp and realign our body. I usually recommend a massage at least once a month, placed after or within our most "demanding" (either life stress, or training-wise) week. However, I get that regular massage isn't always realistic or affordable.
Here's what we CAN do:
Find an area that feels a little "off" and take ten minutes to massage, stretch, or gently exercise it. My favorite tools are a foam roller, lacrosse ball, stretch bands, the R8 roller, and YouTube videos from experts Dr. Brent Brookbush, Eric Cressey, and Dr. Erik Dalton. A few mini massage sessions per week can help us tackle aches and pains BEFORE they become a problem!
A good therapist can suggest self-care exercises. Book a few massages and ask what you can do at home to address your body's needs. If we put in some work on our own, it can reduce the need for paid sessions!
2. COLD THERAPY
In his book Head Strong, Scientist Dave Aspery shares cold therapy has potential to improve thyroid health, reduce inflammation, revamp mitochondria (energy) functioning, and restore our body’s ability to monitor and respond to stress.
Two ways I use it:
Cold Shower - We can experience the benefits of cold therapy from only seconds of exposure! At the end of your shower, turn the water all the way to cold, making sure it hits your face and chest. Start with just a few seconds and work your way up to 30.
Cryotherapy – My husband and I first tried cryo during our 2015 Big Sur Marathon train up. He wanted to decrease inflammation in his reconstructed ankles and I was his nerdy wife looking to experiment! Recently, I’ve used cryo as a way to recover from my early shift hours and long work commute. Sometimes 3 minutes in a cold therapy chamber is just the boost I need to (enthusiastically) pick up my kiddos and take on the rest of the day! Use this directory to find a location near you.
3. LIGHT THERAPY
After researching the incredible benefits of light therapy I decided to purchase the Joovv. This is the easiest and most effective way to boost recovery that I've found because treatment takes as little as 10 minutes and all I have to do is sit near the light!
You can learn more about the research behind light therapy here, but here's how I use it and the benefits I've seen:
The near infrared light has been a great way to enhance deep tissue muscle recovery of sore muscles. I've felt an immediate difference after Joovving my sore legs after a hilly long run!
Not going to lie, I have been using the red light option to decrease fine lines and dark circles on my face. I've enjoyed more makeup-free days as a result.
I tend to get a little down during long, cold winter days. Light therapy has been a great way to help boost my mood and start my day off feeling connected to brightness and well-being!
My husband has been using the Joovv to help decrease joint pain and inflammation in his reconstructed ankles. Happy to report, they are holding up well during marathon training!
Finally, I am hopeful that light therapy can help improve thyroid function, spot treat the areas I know have reduced bone mass, and assist my body with hormone balance. These are longer term results I'll only see through routine lab work, but I'm happy to report I continue to see improvements.
Whether I’m working, doing yoga, or reading my kids bedtime stories in front of it, the Joovv has been a welcomed device in our home. The benefits thus far have been well worth the money!
4. EPSOM SALT BATH
My pro athletes have been talking about Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, baths for years. I honestly never gave them a try until my doctor recommended a formula to help relax my tense muscles and get my body some extra magnesium.
It turns out researchers aren’t sure how much extra magnesium our body actually absorbs, or it’s absorbed through inhalation of the steam or through our skin. However, given many Americans are deficient in magnesium, and a warm bath just feels great, it’s a quick, easy, and inexpensive relaxation and recovery trick worth giving a try!
Here’s my Doctor’s formula and the one I’ve seen benefits from soaking in for 10-15 minutes a few nights per week:
Unfortunately, my Doctor recently retired. However, during our last appointment I asked, "If you have ONLY ONE recommendation for how I can best help my body recover as I ramp up my workouts AND try to reverse my health conditions, what is it?" Her answer, "Make sure you are replenishing your trace minerals."
She recommended I add a few drops of this tasteless mineral concentrate to my water. After looking into the research, I learned trace minerals and vitamins act as cofactors, or "helpers", to our muscle protein synthesis and repair response. This means if we become deficient in these important nutrients, our body will have an impaired ability to recover. I now use ConcenTrace Trace Mineral Drops after I run or strength train as a quick and easy way to give my body an extra recovery edge!
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Bottomline: Recovery routines won't work unless we work them, so we have to find Realistic, Enjoyable, and Flexible ("REF") options that fit our lifestyle. The more we can listen to and prioritize our body's needs, the better we can maintain the strength and energy to keep doing all the activities we love!
I absolutely believe YOU CAN find realistic ways to make wellness work and Team Valentine Project has your back!
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