We often talk about training for our days on the hill but there is another piece to consider once you finish slaying the pow. Recovery. Most of us don’t take this into consideration. The truth is it can get a bit geeky. Our recovery may include the après ski atmosphere where we kick up out feet and have a beer with some buddies. By all means, continue doing this. We can also maximize our recovery with some simple habits so you can feel better making turns the next day.
The two biggest pieces to this puzzle won’t cost you anything and are low hanging fruit: sleep and nutrition.The two biggest pieces to this puzzle won’t cost you anything and are low hanging fruit: sleep and nutrition. If you pay attention to these two factors you are WAY ahead of the game in making the most of your recovery.
After you take care of these elements you can start to look into some other options to aide in recovery. For the most part these will all have a similar goal of trying to increase blood flow. Why? This is what helps flush out our muscles from any of the byproducts from hard workouts or intense activity and it helps promote healing. Some may seem more appealing than others:
I suggest keeping this at no more than 5 min… yes, it’s an ice bath as in a cold tub filled with ice. It constricts blood flow and can help flush out the byproducts after you get warm again. I have done these with some success in the past but finish it off with a hot shower to get warm again. Otherwise I’m in full shiver mode the rest of the night.
These seem to be the rage depending on what type of fitness community you are in. Truth is the jury is still out on whether these work during, after workouts, or at all. I have personally tried it in the past and found some benefit to sleeping in them for recovery to reduce leg soreness. Downside: for it to work they have to be super tight and I ended up taking them off in the middle of the night since they were so uncomfortable and I felt like I was in an oven.
There are all sorts of these out there now. Marc Pro and Power Dot are the two that I have experience with. These are essentially muscle stimulators and they can be used for pre-workout or recovery. The Power Dot is pretty slick since it’s wireless and you use an app on your phone. It’s also pretty spendy. Before dropping the coin on a stim machine I would suggest seeing if know anyone that has one you can borrow. Give it a shot and if you see real value to it start doing some research on what model would work for you. Personally, I haven’t seen much of a difference in recovery, it just feels like a nice massage.
Now, these are the king of recovery in my opinion. They are also the most expensive option. I was fortunate enough to win a set at a competition a few years ago and have used them quite a bit in the past. They are basically a set of leg sleeves that fill up with air to compress your legs. It runs through different zones and cycles working its way from the lower leg up to your hips. They also make hip and upper body accessories as well but the legs are what have helped me the most in the past. What I like most about it is that it increases blood flow and I just get to sit there. No extra work, just relax. The compression helps create blood flow which can reduce some soreness and help speed up your recovery.
This is the most affordable of all. You going for a long walk with the dog, taking a super easy jog, or riding on the rollers with your bike for 30-40 minutes at a mellow pace accomplishes all the things listed above are trying to. Low-intensity work increases blood flow by elevating your heart rate and pumping blood through your body. I know…almost too simple. The trick is some of us are so spent we don’t feel like doing those things. I get it, but if you put in the time to do it and keep it mellow it does work quite well. Try a yoga class if you feeling like getting your zen on and don't mind spending a few bucks.
Regardless of what recovery tools you plan on using make sure to start with quality sleep and nutrition. You can’t outrun these with any gear, tools, metrics, or whatever else comes on the market. Once you have sleep and nutrition dialed it really boils down to preference and experimentation. Some people swear by ice baths, others by compression. If it works for you, continue to do it. If it doesn’t that’s ok as well. Trying different recovery methods is part of the process if finding what works best for you. Now get some sleep, eat well, and make some more turns!