My Top 7 Resources for Workout Recovery
Updated: May 20
If you are an athlete, performing artist or someone who works out consistently, you know that feeling stiff, tight, pain and strain are inevitable. There are several things that I use consistently to manage my body so I can recover and be at my best. These days it is easy to fall into the newest trends. In my 17 years of researching wellness and my background in fitness, I can tell you most of them do not stick around. I prefer to focus my attention and effort on the fundamentals with a few special tools used consistently. These tools are what work best for me and my current level of activity which includes lifting weights, calisthenics, cycling, rebounding, jump rope and occasional interval runs. Let us take a look.
My Recovery Strategies
#1 Sleep: I consider this to be by far the most important and it does not cost you a dime. When you get enough sleep, you manage a healthier weight, keep a strong immune system, reduce stress and improve mood, rebuild tissue, less prone to injuries, balance your hormones, delay the aging process, think more clearly, make better decisions and dramatically lower your risk for serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease. I make this a top priority. Side Note: The people with the most challenges in my practice often have the lowest number of sleep hours. That is a fact! I opt for 8 hours, and when I get it, I am a champion.
#2 Nutrition: This is a critical part of my recovery. When I get the appropriate ratio of fat, protein, and carbohydrates as well as calories, magically the systemic tension in my body dissipates much quicker and I am recovered, ready for my next workout. The key here is quality water and food, and it must be real food. For water, I opt for store bought spring water or reverse osmosis water with minerals added back to it. Since I am a meat-eater, I do best with meat from humanely raised, organic, non-gmo fed animals. When I eat regular store-bought meats, I feel sluggish physically and mentally and must go back to the good stuff. Wild seafood and eggs are also important for me along with organic fruits and vegetables, sprouts, and wheatgrass, some of which I grow myself. I am also not perfect. My guilty pleasures include pizza and corn tortilla chips. If I eat too much of that, I will be paying for it. At the end of the day, be easy on yourself and quality is key. Eating right for your biochemistry is equally as important. I have listed some resources for you at the bottom of the page for high quality food sources and knowing how to eat right for your biochemistry.
#3 Dietary Supplements: I am conservative with supplements and use only what is essential. In my earlier days, I would read about something and decide to buy it at the health food store. Many times, I would come to find out that it did not agree with me and made me feel worse or had no effect at all. Now I have resources to help me take the guesswork out of using dietary supplements to help me recover. These two include the following:
HTMA is an analytical test which measures the mineral content of the hair. According to the website www.traceelements.com, clinical results have shown that a properly obtained sample can give an indication of mineral status and toxic metal accumulation following long term or even acute exposure… A HTMA reveals a unique metabolic world: intracellular activity, which cannot be seen through most other tests. This provides a blueprint of the biochemistry occurring during the period of hair growth and development. My experience with this was positive and I felt the differences in my health gradually over a period of a few days to a few months. It was useful after finding out I had high levels of mercury years after removing my amalgam fillings which affected my thyroid function. I do not use it anymore because I do not have hair on my head as this provides the most accurate sample of nutritional status.
Nutrition Response Testing: According to the website, www.unsinc.info, NRT is a non-invasive system of analyzing the body to determine the underlying causes of ill health. When these are corrected through safe, natural, nutritional means, the body can repair itself to attain and maintain more optimum health. This is performed in variations by different practitioners but basically, they use a muscle testing technique to discover potential food allergens or intolerances, heavy metal toxicity, opportunistic microbes/infections and nutritional deficiencies which could be affecting your organs and glands. This has saved me at different at times in my life when blood tests came back “normal.” This is also a technique which helps to identify which supplements are useful for me or not. If you find yourself with a challenging condition or using bags of supplements you read about, find an NRT practitioner and I am sure they will get you on the right track as they did for me.
I am pretty much always using digestive enzymes to ensure I get the most out of my food. I also consistently test well for magnesium citrate for muscle relaxation, balancing blood sugar and sleeping well, zinc picolinate for optimal hormonal and immune health, choline for fat digestion and liver health and inositol for calming the nervous system and focus. For intense workouts, I will use l-glutamine and taurine to prevent muscle breakdown and initiate recovery. Try out HTMA or NRT and see if it is for you. If not, just make sure you use reputable brands without fillers or toxic byproducts. I have listed some resources below.
#4 Alternating Hot/Cold Showers: This is something I have been doing for years. Most people have been jumping on the cold shower bandwagon recently for good reason. There is plenty of research backing the benefits. This is also free! I do this every morning and the purpose of doing the alternating temperature is to strengthen the autonomic nervous systems adaptation to extreme temperatures. This is great for regulating inflammation and body temperature, lowering blood pressure and heart rate and most importantly it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. The part of our nervous system which is responsible for rest and digest. That means recovery folks! Some Naturopaths use the alternating hot/cold concept to boost the immune system and balance the body called Hydrotherapy.
#5 Stretching: I do not always stretch as a routine, but when I do it is intentional. The key things here are I am gentle with myself allowing the stretch to happen versus forcing a body part into a position, breathing into the area to create more space, and taking my time. Folks, please take your time, be gentle with yourselves when you stretch. Play around with the position you are in when you are stretching. You might find that turning your head or body slightly can find a new area of strain which could use a little release. Yin yoga is a good yoga method for teaching long stretch times in yogic positions. You can try other forms of yoga as well.
#6 Chinese Medicine: If I find myself overworked or stressed, my recovery slows down. Acupuncture and prescription herbs always work for me. In just a session, it calms me down and recharges my battery. I use this as needed. You must do the herbal medicine along with the acupuncture. They are meant to be used together as part of a treatment for your personal constitution. If you have never tried acupuncture before, you may need to invest a few sessions before noticing anything significant. There are Chinese Medicine Practitioners everywhere.
#7 Bodywork: This may not come as a surprise to you, but Rolfing is my go-to choice for hands on bodywork. It provides me with the quickest and longest lasting changes in my alignment and movement patterns. It restores my range of motion, mobility, and flexibility. This work keeps me injury-free and functioning at my highest. Typically, I will have a session every 4-6 weeks to keep me limber (no pun intended) and to reduce the accumulation of strain from the sessions I conduct with clients. I need to be at my best. Other notable bodywork options: If I have a rib out of place and I do not have much time, I will see a chiropractor or naprapath. It has been many years, but they can be a valuable resource.
Lastly, on occasion I will get a massage. I am not necessarily looking for structural work but getting a massage can be deeply relaxing and great for improving circulation. The benefits of touch and massage are well documented. Take advantage of it.
Thanks for tuning into the post. If you liked the topic and want to hear more like this on bodywork, health, and wellness, feel free to send me a message. If you are interested in a Rolfing session, you can find me at one of several locations in the Chicagoland area. Below are some resources for you if you have taken interest on some of the things I have written about and benefitted myself. I do not receive anything from them at all, ever. They are people I have personally consulted with and sought support.
· Jim Marlowe, former Chief Nutritionist at Dr. Mercola’s Optimal Wellness Center. At one point, this was the busiest natural health clinic in the US. Jim ran the nutrition clinic. He is a phenomenal resource to have and he has accumulated much wisdom practicing nutrition for 30+ years. Jim teaches nutritional integrity and how to eat appropriately for your unique biochemistry. Call him to learn more if you feel you could use his help or save his information for future reference. 773-506-7247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
· Dr. Scott Stratton, D.C, Chiropractor and Nutrition Response Testing Practitioner in Frankfort, IL. Dr. Stratton has helped me in my own challenging times. If you find yourself, taking bags of supplements, or having a health challenge you just cannot shake off, I highly recommend him. Advanced Chiropractic Wellness, www.drscottstratton.com
· Amie Wharff, Nutrition Response Testing Practitioner: Amy practices close to my office in Beverly, Chicago, IL. Wharff Wellness 312-448-7007 or email at email@example.com
· Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Testing: There are 2 companies which I have used and know of: Trace Elements www.tracelements.com and Analytical Research Labs www.arltma.com. Both websites have links for you to find practitioners in your area or you can do a local google search and see which practitioners offer this service.
· Joslynn Adams, Acupuncturist: Joslynn practices both acupuncture and herbal medicine at a couple of different locations one of which is in Logan Square where I have my Rolfing practice. She also provides consultations through video calls and through this she can appropriately prescribe you an herbal formula. She was the only person I knew available during the Covid-19 pandemic to give me a custom formula. She is a great resource to have and I am grateful for her service. www.joslynnadamsacu.com , 224-252-0905, firstname.lastname@example.org
· Sheri Giachetto, Fresh from the Farm Cooperative: Providing local, organic, farm-sourced raw dairy, meats, and produce since 2001. They have assembled an array of foods from various local providers which include organic, grass fed beef, pork, pastured chickens, pastured eggs, raw milk, cream, and other raw dairy products. Raw honey and bee pollen are also available as well as organic produce in the summer months, all from local, independent, organic farmers. They provide these foods fresh on a weekly basis (Weds pickup) from a Southwest suburban location, and currently serve over 300 families from all areas of the Chicago metro. They continue to welcome new families to the cooperative and are happy to answer any questions you may have. They continue to search for the highest quality products at the most reasonable prices for our members as well as our own use. Website: www.freshfromthefarmcoop.com Sheri Giachetto Email: email@example.com
· National University of Health Sciences: www.nuhs.edu
The Pacific College of Health and Science: www.pacificcollege.edu
The Chicago College of Oriental Medicine: www.ccoom.org
These schools located in and around Chicago offer low-cost acupuncture sessions for those who would like to receive the benefits of the work but are looking for a lower cost option. Remember, the herbs with acupuncture are more effective together.
· Favorite Supplement Brands: Standard Process, Systemic Formulas, Thorne Research, Biotics Research, and Pure Encapsulations. When I am in a bind, I will go to Vitamin Shoppe or Fruitful Yield.