The Three R’s of Recovery - “Rest, Rebuild, Restore”
By Kevin Morris, MS, ATC
You must break down to build up! Yes, this sounds confusing, but it simply exemplifies our body’s physiological response to exercise. During any form of physical activity, our body goes through a catabolic response (break down) of muscle tissue from the repeated stresses applied during activity.1 These repeated stresses cause tiny microscopic tears to form within our skeletal muscle (see figure 1). Over time our body works to rebuild these microtears through an anabolic response (build up), and adapt to be able to withstand even greater stresses in the next workout.(1) This idea is known as the SAID principle, or Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. When performing a specific motion, your body will progressively become more efficient at handling that stress and adapt to withstand further physical demands.(2)
Figure 1: Microtears in a Muscle
What is so interesting about all this is that everyone has their own functional level of performance. Whether you are a weekend warrior, a professional athlete, or just starting to become physically active, it is important to know your functional limits and not push yourself past it. You would not run the entirety of a 5k if you can only run 1 mile, or squat 200lbs if your 1 rep max is 175lbs. Everything takes patience and the right training to build your functional level up to new limits!
And it is this aspect of patience and training that ties into how we can better recover after activity. Now, most sports don’t build recovery days into their schedule as athletes are expected to perform at a high level of activity everyday. Even physically active individuals strive to workout at least 3-5 days a week, but struggle keeping up the same workload for each workout because of soreness or joint pain. We break down every time we workout, now it’s time we start apologizing to our bodies and help them recover faster so you can perform at your desired level of activity.
Too often the recovery process gets neglected in your training regime, which can lead to overtraining. Recovery is multifaceted and requires more than just resting at home. So what can we do to help us recover better?
1] Pro Protein!
You have probably heard people say make sure you eat protein after you workout, but have you ever wondered why? Our body breaks down fats carbs and proteins into energy during exercise, but the proportion of each macronutrient’s catabolic activity depends on the intensity of your training (see Figure 2). Moderate-high intensity activity results in carbs being our primarily fuel source for energy. When carbs stores are depleted, our body must find other ways to find energy, and it comes in the form of protein breakdown within the muscle. Since our body cannot store protein like we can store fats and carbs, we must consume more protein to help rebuild the damaged muscle tissue. Studies have shown consuming a protein + carb drink right after your workout aids in recovery, because you are replenishing the protein loss from energy and muscle breakdown, restoring carbohydrate stores, and increasing bone density from calcium found in most protein drinks.
Figure 2: Proportion of Fat vs Carb Burn During Exercise
2) Turn the Lights Off!
There’s nothing better than getting a good night’s sleep. Not enough sleep before training decreases energy, concentration, and coordination that can increase your risk of injury. Not to mention sleep helps increase growth hormone (GH) secretion which helps repair muscle tissue.(3)
3) Stop, Drop, and Roll out!
Guided compression to muscle tissue is designed to roll away the built up toxins within the muscle and help decrease lactic acid build up. The use of trigger point rollers can also help increase flexibility by relaxing targeted muscle groups and just like their name, decrease trigger points!
4) Replace the Sweat!
When you sweat, your body is not only losing water, but also salt and electrolytes. Salt plays a critical element in nerve and muscle function as it helps transmit nerve impulses to the muscle fibers to either contract or relax. A depletion of salt causes an abnormal communication between the nerve and muscle, resulting in muscle cramps or spasms.
5) Hot and Cold
Heat therapy is a technique that can be used before or after your workout. Heat aids in recovery by increasing local blood flow and increase lymphatic fluid flow to allow for greater cell turnover and help repair microtrauma.(4) Heat also helps relax stiff or overactive muscles, and for those who have ever dealt with muscle cramps know how sore they can be afterward.
Cryotherapy, on the other hand can also be used as a recovery tool after workouts. Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) involves short exposures to air temperatures below 320 * F! You heard that right! During a WBC session, blood travels from your extremities to the vital organs that are influential in filtering toxins out of blood, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and more. Once the body warms itself, fresh hyper-oxygenated blood rich with nutrients returns to your extremities allowing for faster healing and recovery!(5)
These are only just some of the many recovery tools to use to make sure you are performing at the highest potential! Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a place you could go to for all of your recovery needs? Luckily for you, there is a place- Diamond Rest and Recovery Room (DR3)! Located inside the 59,000-square foot Diamond Edge Academy, DR3 contains some of the best recovery tools on the market and are available for anyone to use including: heat and cold therapy, massage therapy, full body compression systems, electrical stimulation, tool-assisted myofascial release, and much more! Step into a whole body cryotherapy unit and really feel what 320* F feels like! Sit back and relax with a pair of NormaTec compression sleeves on your arms, hip, or legs! Lay down as an on-site licensed massage therapist works every tension spot out of your body! Never neglect the recovery process again!
1. Stenholm S, Maggio M, Lauretani F, et al. Anabolic and Catabolic Biomarkers As Predictors of Muscle Strength Decline: The InCHIANTI Study. Rejuvenation Res. 2010;13(1):3-11. doi:10.1089/rej.2009.0891.
2. SAID principle - Oxford Reference. http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100522144. Accessed September 8, 2017.
3. Takahashi Y, Kipnis DM, Daughaday WH. Growth hormone secretion during sleep. J Clin Invest. 1968;47(9):2079-2090.
4. presentation-dolan.pdf. http://www.goeata.org/protected/EATACD08/downloads/PDF/presentation-dolan.pdf. Accessed September 8, 2017.
5. Whole-body cryotherapy: empirical evidence and theoretical perspectives. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3956737/. Accessed September 8, 2017.