Maxwell's Marathon Training: Recovery and Stretching
Maxwell’s Ultra-Marathon Guide to Recovery & Stretching
Ice Baths following a hard workout have long been proposed as a method to reduce tissue swelling due to muscle breakdown and help decrease inflammation. According to Dr. Mike Reinold, head physical therapist for the Boston Red Sox, “the proposed mechanisms of this includes reducing inflammation, flushing out muscles due to constriction of blood cells, decreasing metabolic activity, and compressing the muscles through hydrostatic pressure.” Essentially, by slowing down cell processes and using water to apply light compression, ice baths help to circulate blood throughout the body and move waste products, like lactic acid, outside of the muscle. Ice baths aren’t required for an everyday level of exercising, but fit in perfectly with my recovery plan. So far using ice baths on a regular basis has helped with any inflammation and soreness I have had.
Stretching has become a much debated topic in recent times. For years it was touted as the key to restoring flexibility, improving athletic performance, and reducing injuries. Then stretching, particularly passive stretching, fell out of popularity in favour of more dynamic moves that were designed to prepare the body for sport. Fascial Stretch Therapy (or FST) offers an alternative to passive and static stretching, a type of stretching that targets not only the muscles, but the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones, and joints. FST also targets the entire joint and joint capsule, using traction to remove restrictions from movement and to stimulate lubrication. A therapist will gently pull and move the arms, legs, spine, and neck in a smooth motion through varying planes of movement. Some of the benefits of Fascial stretching include; increased range of motion, reduced rain, improved posture, improved circulation and improved energy.
One really useful method for recovery is the foam roller. Think of it as ironing out the wrinkles in your rumpled musculature. Joe Hashey, C.S.C.S., owner of Synergy Athletics, explains: “Foam rolling smooth’s and lengthens your muscles, and breaks up adhesions and scar tissue.” Another benefit is that it helps your muscles relax by activating the sensory receptors connecting your muscle fibres to your tendons. The net effect is better blood circulation, which in turn speeds workout recovery and boosts performance.
Rest days are actually implemented in many professional training plans, even those of Olympic athletes, in order to allow the body time to recuperate. As we work out, we place greater strain on our muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and joints. Our immune system is activated when there are muscle tears or joint strains, but if the body doesn’t come out of continual practice, this system doesn’t have the time to catch up and start patching everything back up. Thus, if you’re building muscle, you should take a day off from lifting the same region so the body has time to repair the muscles you’re working.