If you’re an OCR athlete, chances are you’re no stranger to soreness, stiffness, and achy muscles. We all want to learn new ways to help reduce, relieve, and speed up recovery, so that we can back to training. My name is Evan Kauffman, and today I am going to share my two favorite methods, that I use to stay on top of my performance during race season.
Method 1: ICE AND COLD THERMOGENESIS
Ice Ice baby, (yes I just said that). Ice for recovery is no secret – we have seen ice used for many years to help reduce and alleviate pain. There must be something said for it, when we see top professional athletes use ice after, and in between games. Another name for an “ice bath” is cold therapy, or cold thermogenesis, and it has many benefits to it other than just reducing pain.
The process of cold thermogenesis produces body heat after it has been exposed to excessive cold temps, it helps reduce muscle pain while also increasing your metabolic rate. It also helps activate your brown fat cells, which burn energy and produce heat. These cells are very rare and have only been known to come out during exercise or cold exposure. My protocol is filling a bath tub with cold water, and 3-5 bags of ice, and allowing my body to soak for 5-10 minutes. If you are just starting, you can ease into it. Start with just cold water, for shorter periods of time. Then slowly begin adding ice. Another way to get some of the benefits of cold thermogenesis is while showering. While in the shower, turn the knob all the way down to cold, and try to focus in on breathing. You can do this like interval training – 30 seconds cold, 30 seconds hot, etc. Starting with shorter, fewer intervals, and progressing over time.
Method 2: MYOFASCIAL RELEASE
You may be asking yourself, “what is myofascial release”? Fascia is a thin layer of fibrous tissue that surrounds your muscles, and binds together like a tough spiderweb. It helps support and protect the muscles and organs of your body. The release of the fascia helps to lengthen and breaks down any knots surrounding you muscles and promotes better blood flow during the process. There are a few different tools and ways to administrate myofascial release.
Instrument assisted soft tissues mobilization (IASTM) is the name for one process. My personal favorite is Gua Sha, using the increasingly popular SidekickTool. Similar to coining, scrapping, or spooning, Gua Sha is an old ancient Chinese therapy, where you scrap the top layer of your sore or aching muscles in one fluent motion towards you heart. It helps target more specific areas, to release tension and enhance blood flow. It has also been known to help boost your immune system, and release toxins by creating friction and releasing heat from the surface.
Another method that is similar to Gua Sha is the Graston Technique. While this is more of a modern approach. both are based on the inflammatory process. Graston is more of deep rhythmic pressure, breaking up adhesions and fibrous tissues deep down into the muscle using multiple stroke variations. You do not necessarily need a fancy tool to perform this on yourself. Try a spoon and some massage cream (so it can slide across more smoothly). You want to perform this for about 2 minutes on each sore/tight area you’d like to target. Using the spoon will be rougher than a professional instrument, but it will provide similar results. You can also seek out professionals to administer the Graston Technique, if a spoon doesn’t sound like your cup of tea.
In SummaryThere are lots of recovery methods, and tools out there. Stretching, foam rolling, ice, massage, and more. The key is to experiment with each, and find what works for you. These methods just happen to be my favorite – and over time, you’ll find yours!
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