By Dave Jack
We live in Tahoe to enjoy all the fun outdoor activities right out our back door. We’re great at raising our “stoke” by pushing our body’s limits in this backyard playground; but just as easily as we can turn it on, can we turn it off?
Recovery is allowing both the mind and the body to switch off. Better recovery gives us a greater chance of staying pliable and limber so we can enjoy our adventures the next day, month, year — or decades later.
Tom Brady says it best: “Greatness is achieved by longevity, resilience, and dedication to the balance of fitness.”
Balance is the key. For the amount of work you put into breaking your body down, invest equal or more effort into building it back up. Here are some of the best-known recovery techniques that will keep you enjoying an active Tahoe lifestyle for the long term.
Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. Proper hydration is the most important tool for keeping the body running efficiently, especially at high altitudes where, according to the Wilderness Medical Society, water is lost through respiration twice as quickly as at sea level. Less oxygen means a higher respiration rate, which withdraws more water from the body.
Water helps the body’s lymphatic system to flush out damaged cells and metabolic waste and toxins, and to fight against infection. More water means less soreness. By keeping a continual flow of water through our muscles, organs, skin, and brain, the body can transport nutrients to cells effectively, so we look and feel better.
Aim to drink at least half your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water each day, increasing 20 ounces for every hour of exercise. Try adding some electrolytes like NUUN, Liquid IV, or even a pinch of salt to a couple of glasses.
Dehydration leads to muscle tightness, cramps, headaches, and overall low energy. Drinks with too much sugar or caffeine, like soft drinks or coffee, respectively, and alcohol, will reduce any effort to stay as hydrated as possible.
Tennis superstar Roger Federer reportedly sleeps an average of 12 hours a night. Why? Because sleep is when your muscles, bones, tissues, brain, central nervous system, and hormones all recover.
Sleep can be broken down into three stages: light, REM, and deep sleep. The latter is when your body recovers best because your heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, metabolism, and body temperature are reduced.
Human growth hormone, which promotes the body’s healing and growth, is released during deep sleep. HGH is also a precursor for other vital hormones such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1).
Insufficient amounts of sleep can impair glucose metabolism, testosterone, and cortisol. This imbalance leaves you feeling more stress and decreased mental clarity, which can lead to improper nutritional choices the next day.
Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep, recommends getting an average of seven to nine hours of sleep a night. A great night of sleep requires getting one to two hours of deep sleep. To reach that I recommend turning off the lights, avoiding blue light from your devices, and taking deep breaths before bed. Try to establish a proper circadian rhythm in which you have a routine scheduled for your body to get adequate rest each night. A sleep tracking wearable device is also great for monitoring stages of sleep to know how well you actually slept.
It really doesn’t matter how much you exercise if you’re not eating the right foods with the right nutrients to allow your body to recover. Exercise increases inflammation and acidity. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet high in alkaline foods will help counterbalance your efforts.
Ideally eat fresh, seasonal, organic foods from high-quality local sources. Good alkaline-rich foods primarily come from non-starchy, fibrous vegetables and fruits. To reduce acidity, consume dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, eggplant, beets, and others.
Some acidic foods to be conscious of are dairy, eggs, meat, most grains, sugars, and processed foods. It’s best to avoid those to balance out your acidity and inflammation.
Just about every system in our body requires oxygen. Deep inhales increase oxygen in our red blood cells, and deep exhales let out our harmful carbon dioxide. Breathing deeply improves our digestion, sleep, mental clarity, immunity, and more. It also has been proven to calm our bodies and reduce stress and anxiety.
In this day and age, we have continual stimulation from excessive device time spent socializing, working, etc. We are in constant fight-or-flight mode more than we are historically used to. Try some meditation classes or yoga, or simply lay on the floor on your back at night and take in 30 to 40 deep inhales through the nose with deep exhales out the mouth. Control your breath and feel the calming benefits right away.
Cold reduces inflammation while heat increases circulation. Cold plunging in 45- to 55-degree water will constrict blood vessels, reducing swelling and inflammation. Try jumping into the Truckee River or one of our beautiful Alpine lakes for three minutes after exercising. Or simply at the end of your shower, turn the water to cold for 30 seconds to two minutes.
The benefits of the sauna are extensive. It has been shown to improve the cardiovascular system, release endorphins that reduce pain, flush out toxins, help our skin regeneration, improve mental clarity, reduce stress, aid sleep, and more. Try a sauna at 180 to 200 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes after cold plunging to heat back up and reap all the benefits.
Foam Rolling and Stretching
Fascia is like the sausage casing of our muscles. If our fascia is tight, the muscles lying beneath will be tight as well. Using self-myofascial release strategies such as foam rolling, massage, or a percussion gun after workouts will relieve that fascial tightness.
Once that fascia is released, stretch. Loosening the calves, hamstrings, lower back, quads, and hips will revive your muscles’ length-tension relationships so your kinetic chain works more effectively and saves you from overuse or injury
Balance your fitness by giving your body equal or more time in recovery compared to what you do with your exercise. By choosing to get a couple recovery techniques in each day, you will revive your body and increase your longevity and enjoyment of a happy, healthy life.
~ Words to Recover By ~
“You are only as young as your spine is flexible.”
~ Joseph Pilates
“The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.”
~ neuroscientist Dr. Matthew Walker, founder, Center for Human Sleep Science, author of Why We Sleep
“Sleep is probably the greatest legal performance-enhancing drug that few are abusing enough.”
~ Dr. Matthew Walker
“Let food be thy medicine.”
“The mind is like a kite, flying here and there, and the breath is like the string of the kite, generally bringing the mind back into the present moment. The breath brings the mind, which is all over the place, back to its source, a natural state of peacefulness and joy.”
~ Ravi Shanklar
~ Dave Jack graduated with a B.A. in business marketing from the University of Colorado Boulder. He’s worked for 13 years as a certified personal trainer and specializes in corrective exercise, performance enhancement, functional movement, fitness nutrition, weight loss, metabolic, and pre-/postnatal fitness.