The 3rd Leg of Performance – Recovery

The 3rd Leg of Performance – Recovery


At the compound we understand the importance of brutal workouts. We do everything from kettlebells, powerlifting, olympic lifting, running, some ring name it. Why? It gets you stronger and better conditioned. The key ingredient to these workouts is intensity…

Additionally, we’ve done a good job of stressing the importance of nutrition, primarily recommending the Paleo way of eating. All natural meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Cut out the processed carbs, grains, and limit the dairy.

But what I haven’t done is stress the importance of recovery. These 3 areas all must be in balance in order to reach the highest level of performance. In order to come back stronger and make faster gains, you have to recover properly, especially given the high intensity workouts we do.

This week alone I was reminded of this on 2 separate occasions;
On Sunday we hosted the 9-11 Throwdown at the gym. We were fortunate enough that the Kentucky crew including Crossfit Regional Competitor Ger came down and participated.

Kentucky crew..

After smashing the workout, the Kentucky immediately went to their cooler they brought in and started whipping up some post workout shakes to start the recovery process. Additionally, after killing the shake Ger grabbed the foam roller and started rolling his business out and getting his mobility on in order to as K-Star would say become a “supple leopard”. By hitting the foam roller and working mobility exercises Ger was preventing joint/muscle tightness so he can recover and faster and ulimately be better for the next workout.

The second example was based on  stubborn stupidity from myself. Working two jobs and trying to train on top of it, the first thing that I won’t do to save time is recovery work. Sometimes in a rush I don’t even spend enough time warming up properly let alone the necessary time after a workout to recovery properly. Guess what..if you don’t do it, it will catch up to you. 10 minutes a day is all you really need to do and it can be done anywhere, home/office/ just takes the discipline to do it.

At the end of the story I’ll post some great practices for you guys to do but since I’ve already mentioned the name “K-Star” one thing you need to do everyday is checkout the MWOD at:
The purpose of the mobility program is:
“a jump off point for athletes to systematically begin to address their nasty tissues and grody joint mobility. Use at your own risk and stop if you think it’s gonna hurt you, your spine is going to come out your throat, or your face goes numb. But, understand that you should be responsible for your own business. Don’t wait until you need a new knee. Pony up”

Kelly Starrett aka “K-Star” has a doctorate in Physical Therapy and is a religious crossfitter. He knows exactly what you’re doing and going through. Everyday he posts a video for you to “work on your business”. He’s incredibly smart, knows how to communicate, and a pretty funny dude. Everyday you need to do what he says. For example today we worked some overhead pressing. How can you recover from that? Watch below…

Back to what happened. You may have noticed I was walking around a little “gingerly” today. That’s because I jacked up my right calf muscle last night on the last 800m run. Did this strain just happen? NO…I first noticed it on Saturday when I was on the last 2001 meter run of the 9-11 workout. Like a good red blooded male I toughed it. When I got back to the gym what did I do? NOTHING…I was just happy the damn thing was over, closed up the gym then headed to meet friends at Yamato for my Saturday cheat day special (damn you “Hot Lover” roll).

Okay, so Sunday was a rest day which is good. But what did I do on my rest day to specifically address my calf tightness? Does watching NFL count for anything..not so much. So once again I did nothing. Fast forward to yesterday on the Mudder Monday workout was a total of 120 pullups, 240 pushups, 360 squats, and a mile and a half of running…in other words, lots of volume. On my second 1/2 mile run my calf started to get tight but I kept on running and dove into my 12 rounds of 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats. I made it through my last set of squats then went to sprint out my last 1/2 mile run trying to beat JFK Jr’s time of 36 minutes. As soon as I took my first step, my calf hurt …bad. I couldn’t even walk without pain. But being a knucklehead, I went ahead and did a half walk/jog/hobble…

When I got home I could barely make it up the steps and walking around at work was a challenge. So I learned my lesson the hard way. Instead of preventing an injury from occuring (prehab), I now have to nurse this damn thing and rehab it. So learn your lesson from me….DO THE RECOVERY WORK EVERY DAMN DAY!

What can you do for recovery work? Glad you asked!

Click HERE for an excellent article on recovery. Copied and pasted are somethings you need to be doing like everyday. So watch and do what K-Star says and apply the below principles. It will go a long way to injury proofing your body. Tomorrow we have the 9am and 6pm. Wear long socks, we’ll be on the ropes!

1. Take extra rest days. I’m not talking about swapping your rest day from Wednesday to Tuesday – I’m telling you to skip a bunch of workouts.  I’m a proponent of taking an entire week off once or twice a year from hard training – and can think of no better time to do so than when you’re banged up. And once you go back to intense training, you also need to give that injured body part another week or three of rest. Yes, really – rest it longer than you think you should. Trust me, you’d rather take three weeks off from all pulling exercises than be plagued with chronic injuries (and sucky performance) for the next six months. Finally, don’t even think about doing two workouts a day or a long met-con to “make up for” your extra rest days. The whole point is extra rest.
2. Get felt up (or feel yourself up). Seek out a good massage therapist. Cyclic compression of muscles after intense exercise reduce swelling and muscle damage.  Massage can improve muscle function, resulting in less swelling and fewer signs of inflammation after exercise.  Too busy to book an hour long massage? If you’re beat up, no you’re not… skip today’s workout and hit the massage table. Too broke to see your massage therapist every week?  Luckily, there are cheaper and still-effective alternatives.   Spend enough intimate time with yourfoam roller to make your significant other jealous. Buy a Stick and use it. Work with a tennis ball or lacrosse ball for some self-myofascial release.
3.  Keep moving. Low intensity exercise can protect and enhance the immune system, even when you’re banged up or sick.  It also helps with injury prevention and recovery.  Moving your body increases blood flow and the number of cells that eat up “debris” in the injury.  It also increases oxygen levels to speed up healing, and increases circulation to remove the debris out of injured areas.  Finally, exercise prevents stiffness and decreases the formation of scar adhesions.  Stay active with movements different from those you normally perform during workouts, but remember to keep things light and easy.  Think dynamic warm-up drills, kripalu yoga, an easy swim or a brisk walk.  And people… stretch.
4. Use thermal modalities (heat and ice) appropriately. If you have an acute injury (less than 5 days old), ice is your best friend. I prefer crushed ice (in a plastic bag inside a pillowcase) instead of those commercial gel packs – they warm up too fast. Apply the ice to the injured area for 20-30 minutes, at least 3 times daily. Or you could apply ice directly to the injured area with ice massage (as pictured above) for 8-10 minutes. Most importantly, don’t put heat on an acute injury. The inflammatory process is biochemical, and heat literally speeds up that process. Heat vasodilates and promotes the accumulation of interstitial fluid (edema), and the last thing you want with a fresh injury is to add to the swelling. If you really love your Tiger Balm or Icy Hot, that’s okay – but these products have no real thermal effect. (You might get the sensation, but it doesn’t actually heat or cool your tissue.)
Chronic injuries (anything that persists for longer than 2-3 weeks) respond best to heat, which improves blood flow to the healing tissue. So once you’re into the 5-plus day range, you can use contrasting hot and cold, alternating every 2-5 minutes for a total of 20-30 minutes, especially post-workout.
5. Remove inflammatory dietary factors. This should be a no-brainer around here.  If you’ve been slipping back into old (poor) eating habits, now’s the time to clean up that mess. Get rid of grains, legumes, and dairy altogether.  Need I even mention cutting out booze?   And though it’s controversial, I’d also recommend eating less saturated animal fat (especially egg yolks and fat from feedlot-raised, grain-fed animals) as it can increase pro-inflammatory compounds in your body.
6.  Boost your vegetable intake. Alkaline foods, especially richly coloured vegetables, help to offset the negative effects of acidic metabolic waste. Vitamin C and polyphenols, like those in broccoli and dark leafy greens, are essential for the repair of connective tissue and to reduce inflammation.  Vitamins E (found in sprouts, avocado and dark, leafy greens) and A (found in green and yellow vegetables) are also important nutrients for connective tissue and cell repair.  In summary, eat more veggies, especially green leafies… but not more fruit. (I’m wary of fruit’s impact on insulin levels, which, when elevated, increase inflammatory markers in the body). Go easy on carbohydrate-dense root vegetables for the same reason.
7. Calm down (your inflammation). The ratio of omega fats in your diet help dictate the “inflammation status” of your body. If your diet consists of mostly omega-6 fats, your inflammation response will be unbalanced and damaging to your cells. To that end, per Robb Wolf’s recommendations, bump up your fish oil supplementation to 0.8-1.0 gram of DHA + EPA per 10 pounds of body weight.  The additional omega-3 fatty acids can help tip the balance in your body away from an inflammatory state. Also, avoid concentrated sources of omega-6 fatty acids, such as “industrial” vegetable oils like peanut, safflower, soybean, and corn oils. You could also consider a GLA (gamma-lineolic acid) supplement. (GLA, while in the Omega-6 family, is not converted to the pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid (AA), but rather to dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA).  DGLA competes with AA and prevents the negative inflammatory effects that AA would otherwise cause in the body.)
And it may sound weird, but… don’t forget to brush your teeth and, just as importantly, floss daily.  Periodontal disease can contribute to systemic inflammation in the body just like grains, legumes and dairy.
8. Get more and better sleep.  This article explains how sleep contributes to a whole host of health and fitness factors, including injury prevention and recovery. During this time period, avoid caffeine, which can disrupt the quality of your sleep even if it doesn’t actually keep you awake.
9. Ditch the Advil. While I don’t purport to be smarter than your doctor, here is one area where I disagree with his recommendation to scarf the Vitamin I (ibuprofen) and other NSAIDs (non-steriodal anti-inflammatories). Sure, NSAIDs suppress the inflammatory process and help with pain control. But research has shown that they actuallyslow down the overall healing process, and cause the “healed” tissue to be less strong.  So allow your body’s healing process run its natural course, and don’t band-aid it with Advil.
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