How To (Really) Recover

by Olivia Cox January 18

Have you ever noticed how much busier gyms are in January? Fuelled by the indulgence of party season, we soothe our conscience with torturous fix-all commitments, making all sorts of promises that we can’t keep. Cardio machines get a 20-min max imposed again, once-empty classes dust off their waitlist, and we generate enough watts to power a small city (note: not necessarily factually accurate but you get the point). Trouble is, going all-out has a shelf-life, and burnout is a very real prospect. So. Start slow, adapt your goals to where you’re at, and remember to make time for recovery.

Recovery is commonly shrugged off as an indulgent extra, stuffed waaaay down on the priorities list. But it’s nothing to be sniffed at – making time to recover between sessions allows muscles to repair and re-build, directly increasing performance and reducing the likelyhood of injury. The science is clear: exercise creates microscopic tears in your muscle tissue. When you rest, fibroblasts repair these tears, which is what results in muscle growth.  Here’s the best ways to recover in 2023.

Infrared sauna – Studies have found that a 30-minute session in an infrared sauna after training lessens muscle soreness and accelerates recovery. By boosting circulation, IR saunas help the body’s natural detox processes, speeding up the removal of waste product like lactic acid that are released during intense exercise. As a side note, IR saunas can also be useful pre-workout, too, since they boost ATP production, which is what cells use for energy. The latest (and most convenient) way to get an IR hit is with an at-home blanket – I love MiHigh.

Hydration Therapy – Around 90% of neuromusclar energy is expended through the every-day sensations of gravity, temperature, touch, sight and sound. It’s inescapable. Almost. Because during hydration therapy, the high concentration of Epsom salts in water precisely matched to your body temperature eliminates these stimuli. An hour in the tank allows the body to reset hormonal and metabolic balance, and accelerate recovery from exercise. Try The Body Lab in Kensington.

Lymphatic drainage – Your lymphatic system’s main role in life is to remove toxins from the body. This includes metabolic waste – things like salts, lactate, and creatinine (a chemical compound left over from energy-producing processes in your muscles). Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system is passive, so relies on the movement of muscles to transport fluid through the lymph vessels. And if the system becomes overwhelmed by a sudden injection of toxins, it can become inefficient. The solution: manual stimulation. Hypoxi combines lymphatic drainage with gentle compression, giving lethargic systems the kick-start they need, allowing your body to recover at optimum efficiently. Book in with Dorota’s Lifestyle Studio in Chiswick. 

Foam rolling – This little badger pops up on my New Years Resolutions list year after year but somehow never gets done. So I thought I’d break down the science incase you – like me – need proof of worth before you commit to an activity. Essentially, when you repeatedly use a muscle strenuously, areas of tight fibres and inflammation can form in the Myofascia (a thin layer of fibrous connective tissue that surrounds muscles). Foam rolling is a way to break-down these areas – a similar principle to sports massage. On which note…

Deep tissue massage – Deep tissue massages differs from a “standard” massage by the use of firm pressure and slow strokes, which targets deep layers of muscle and fascia. The technique helps to break-down  internal scar tissue and target areas of tight tissue clusters (aka “knots”), freeing-up circulation and reducing inflammation in muscle tissues. Janine Marie’s method combines intricate knowledge of the muscular system with targeted stretches to release tension and encourage greater range of movement. Her massages are entirely bespoke, tailored to the exact needs of the client.

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