I’ve been researching recovery technology, and I’ve highlighted a bit of what’s out there. I borrowed this from NSCA’s Essentials of Sport Science.
What do we typically see for recovery technology? Things that I call “Big Sexy” are the items that appear close to the top of this chart. I found hyperbaric chambers ($6995+), infrared saunas ($1799+ unless you want one with Himalayan Salt Bars added in, then the price ratchets up by several thousand dollars), and cryo-compression units ($1300+).
While “Big Sexy” is possible for those with deep pockets, what if you don’t have or won’t spend what’s in your wallet? Where do you start with recovery?
I really feel like this recovery pyramid nailed where we really ought to focus.
1) Look at the base of this pyramid! While it’s the base, it’s the hardest to do and maintain, but it’s still the base of how athletes recover – so we definitely need to start there. Most of us are age-group athletes, with jobs, with people that depend on us!
Advice: Do your best to get a good night’s sleep! Sleep and downtime go straight out the window - often with little thought! There are other ways to get mental relaxation. My favorites are Yoga with Adriene and The Calm App. Ten minutes with either can be really refreshing!
2) The next block up, nutrition and hydration, also requires significant time and effort. Without proper nutrition and hydration, the body struggles to recover. I had a fellow athlete that used to recover from long rides by eating large mounds of chocolate chip cookie dough. It’s tasty stuff, however, not nutritionally dense enough to help them recover appropriately.
Lucy Charles-Barclay, a very well-known professional triathlete, has a fracture in her hip. She has a great YouTube video on how she thinks she got injured. You can watch it here. As a professional triathlete, she’s pushing her body to the absolute limits. My contention is that if she can get hurt, so can every other athlete out there - and precisely for the same reasons, which are, according to her video: lower vitamin D, slack on taking supplements, less than optimal nutrition, training stress, personal stress, and high training load.
Fitting in proper sleep and nutrition is more complicated than it sounds, I agree. I’ve had nights where I didn’t sleep and had to swim in the morning, and honestly, I probably did more harm than good by swimming. Nutrition isn’t always spot on because I run out of food or fail to plan.
My challenge to endurance athletes is this:
Try to create a sleep schedule that works for you and supports your training.
Plan and prep your nutrition to support your daily needs and training
Plan a few minutes of recovery every day - for example, Yoga with Adriene, The Calm App, The Downdog App, or have a really easy session of swim, bike, or run, taking a nap, or reading a book.
Develop a list of your favorite recovery items. Here is mine:
Hot tub/pool (friend’s house or bathtub/shower combo)
Frozen water bottle
Foam rollers (multiple lengths)
Dogs - long walk
Yoga with Adriene
The Calm App
Maria Netherland is a Northwest Florida-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Endurance and Youth & Juniors Certified Coach as well as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Performance Enhancement Specialist. Coach Maria loves working for athletes of all abilities, military athletes, and new triathletes as they pursue their goals. Maria is a veteran of the US Army and a United States Military Academy at West Point graduate. She can be reached at email@example.com.