Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Lost Aspect of Exercise Programs: “Recovery”

Dr. Todd Rodman, DC CSCS is a practicing Sports Medicine Chiropractor and CrossFitter located in Boca Raton Florida. He is the Official Team Chiropractor for Florida Atlantic University Athletics and CrossFit Hardcore. He has helped many people improve athletic performance, prevent injuries and overcome injuries through a combination of highly effective manual therapies and nutritional intervention.

The Lost Aspect of Exercise Programs: “Recovery”

One of the most important, yet often overlooked aspects of exercise is proper recovery from training. How many times have you heard, “Why do I need therapy, I’m not hurt”, “I don’t have time to stretch”, “I get my water from soda” or “I only get 5 hours of sleep per night”. These are some of the aspects of recovery that if neglected will hinder performance and lead to injuries. Preparation and training are the most important aspects of a good fitness program but poor recovery can be a detriment to your hard work.

Recovery is the process of returning something to its normal state.

Recovery, in a physical exercise sense, means to repair the body from the muscle tearing that occurs as well as replenish the nutrients that have been depleted. The popularity of intense exercise programs such as CrossFit are growing quickly and for good reason. Intense exercise has proven to have more benefits than moderate exercise and when done safely the benefits definitely out way the risks. One way to ensure that it is done safely is to practice perfect form, develop a strong core, use proper weights and recover as best as possible.

Intense exercise increases the demands on the musculoskeletal system which leads to the breakdown and repair of muscle fibers forcing them to heal back stronger. This repair process is accelerated by good nutrition, lifestyle habits and manual hands-on therapy. Professional athletes have been using nutrition and highly effective manual therapies for many years in order to prolong their careers. Most people that are not professional athletes, but train nearly as vigorous, are not aware of how to maximize recovery and properly maintain the musculoskeletal system.

Because intense exercise causes small soft tissue tears, called microtraumas, proper repair and recovery is necessary to prevent excessive breakdown and overuse. Our bodies require specific conditions such as increased oxygen, decreased musculoskeletal loading, proper nutrition and adequate rest in order to repair a microtrauma. Proper rest and recovery periods help maximize gains from high intensity workouts. Without proper recovery microtraumas can progress to a macrotrauma which is a large tear to the soft tissue. Macrotraumas will hinder performance and alter movement patterns which can cause biomechanical compensations, chronic pain, musculoskeletal dysfunction and force you to stop intense exercise.

The Top 10 Recovery Essentials:

1.) Proper rest – You need at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. This helps increase natural growth hormone needed for muscle building and repair.

2.) Drink plenty of water – Follow this equation to stay well hydrated. Divide your body weight by 16. This number equals how many 8oz. glasses of water you should be drinking per day. If you drink caffeine or carbonated beverages or perform intense exercise that day you may need more. Do not wait until you feel thirsty to drink water.

3.) High quality amino acids or protein –This is necessary to give muscle the building blocks to repair themselves.

4.) Liver Support – The liver plays a major role in metabolism and has a wide range of functions including detoxification and protein synthesis. Inadequate liver function can hinder performance and slow down recovery. Hepatics such as Safflower, Barberry, Beet, Milk Thistle and Gentian are herbs that have traditionally been used to strengthen tone and stimulate the secretory functions of the liver.

5.) Meditation – There are many physiological benefits to meditation including decreased muscle tension and increased circulation which both contribute to improved athletic performance.

6.) Abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables - Fruits and vegetables improve cellular metabolism and decrease the free radical damage created by the oxidative stress of exercise. Juice Plus is a great product for those who cannot eat enough fruits and vegetables through your diet. Contact Kirsten Hood, Juice Plus representative, at for more information on Juice Plus.

7.) Enzyme Nutrition – Digestive enzymes help to improve digestion so that you can utilize the nutrients from the food that you eat. Our office offers a complete analysis of what your body specifically digests and doesn’t digest. Then we provide the proper enzyme and herbal formulas to improve digestive and nourish any organs that have been affected.

8.) Electrolyte replenishment - Needed for proper muscle contraction and to prevent cramping.

9.) Self Stretching- A good self stretching or assisted stretching routine after intense activity will help decrease muscle tension. Because of the increased heat that is generated in your muscles during exercise stretching after your workout gives you the best opportunity to increase your flexibility.

10.) Manual therapy by a qualified therapist – Quality manual therapy is necessary for musculoskeletal maintenance and to accelerate the healing of mictotraumas. A monthy maintenance visit will go a long way towards improving performance and preventing overuse injuries. Email me at and I will help find a qualified therapist near you.

Through proper nutrition and recovery people have been avoiding injuries, moving as effortless and efficient as possible and performing at their highest level

Many “self help” therapies have circulated over the past years such as foam rolling, muscle flossing, topical creams, etc. which all have good benefits. However, if these techniques are done incorrectly they can be ineffective and make injuries worse. There are many manual therapies that in the past were only known and used by professional athletes but are now widely available the general population. All high intensity athletes should have a qualified manual therapist familiar with high intensity training for routine musculoskeletal maintenance. The goal of your manual therapist should be to find the exact, specific tissue that is causing a problem and correct it with a hands on non surgical approach. Here is a list of some of the most effective manual therapies available:

· Active Release Technique

· Graston Technique

· Kinesiotaping

· Muscle Activation Technique

· Sports Medicine Chiropractic

Prepare Smart.

Train Hard.

Recover and Repeat.