Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to an entire spectrum of different athletes- all the way from 8 year old soccer players to Olympic medalists. The biggest difference I see between amateur athletes and professional athletes is the level at which they take care of their body. The amount of training you do and the amount of time you spend working on recovery are both linear. The more you train, the more you have to work on recovery.
I’m of the opinion that there is no such thing as overtraining. I’ve worked with athletes that put in massive amounts of training week after week. If I did a week of their training I would be out of commission for a month. So how can these athletes train so hard and continue to make improvements and not hit a state of overtraining? They work on recovery like it’s their part time job. The training is not what separates good and great athletes, recovery is the secret to success!
Most people have no idea how good their body is supposed to feel because they are constantly in pain. It’s hard to train at your optimal level when you’re always borderline hurt. Here are 4 things you can add in with your training to spike your recovery. Better recovery=more training. More training=more athletic improvement. More athletic improvement=winning and we love winning!
1. Marc Pro
I was exposed to the Marc Pro in 2012 when I was working with CrossFit 808 in Honolulu. One of my mentors, Kelly Starrett, gave me a Marc Pro to test out with the team. I’m a skeptic person at best and I need to see positive changes myself before I start buying in on things like the Marc Pro. Since 2012 I’ve recommended the Marc Pro to all the athletes I work with that are looking for help with recovery.
You’re probably asking what does the Marc Pro actually do. The answer is: it gets the muscles moving. Pretty simple, right? Essentially, the contraction the Marc Pro produces is non-fatiguing but strong enough to get fluid in the muscles moving. This constant but non-fatiguing contraction is basically a lazy person’s way to recovery. If you wanted to get on an Assault Bike and ride at a non-fatiguing speed for 30 minutes you could get a similar effect. If you don’t have an Assault Bike at your house and you want to watch Game of Thrones while you recover, the Marc Pro is a pretty damn good option.
2. Recovery Pump Boots
The Recovery Pump boots look ridiculous. I remember seeing an elite triathlete at a race I was doing in Hawaii a few years ago with these on. It was the first time I had seen the device. It’s just hard to look cool with giant puffy boots on your legs, but they work.
The rationale behind the Recovery Pump is similar in a way to the Marc Pro. Instead of using muscle contraction to help get things moving, the Recovery Pump using sophisticated compression. This compression helps move fluid from the extremities to the torso. Think of the torso as the area where we clear non-useful elements of the blood/fluid after training. It’s essentially out with the old, in with the new when you get fluid circulating more post training.
Who uses Recovery Pump? The majority of NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL teams. Also, multiple branches of military Special Operations groups, elite triathletes and endurance athletes. That’s pretty good company to be in.
3. Nutrient Timing
I recently spoke with Anthony Almada on a podcast I do with another coach called the Doc and Jock Podcast. Anthony was one of the original founders of EAS and is the founder of another supplement company called Vitargo. Vitargo is basically a super carbohydrate that’s been pre-broken down so it’s absorbed faster. It’s a pretty cool product and you can hear the whole interview here.
The reason nutrient timing is important is that you need to be able to effectively replenish your stored energy. Studies have shown endurance athletes need between 400-600 grams of carbohydrate per day. For many of our athletes that eat a very low carb diet, they may only be consuming 25-50% of this. The best way to spike recovery is to time your nutrient timing correctly so that your body has the greatest chance of rebuilding itself.
When you exercise, your body depletes muscle glycogen as this is the main fuel for movement/exercise at the muscle. When we exercise and glycogen gets depleted, insulin stimulates glucose in the blood to be drawn back into the muscle to replenish glycogen. This is important to know because if we have more glucose available in the blood at the time of training we can replenish our energy source better. More ability to replenish the main exercise energy source equals more training!
Try this combo next time you train: drink 35-70 grams of a carbohydrate like Vitargo with 10-20 grams of protien in it 30-60 minutes before training. Drink the same thing within 20-30 minutes post training. The pre-workout nutrients will give your body readily available sources while training and the post workout drink will re-supply the muscles at the key post workout window.
Here are the two supplements I like to use together.
4. Embrace the cold
There has been a big debate on the usage of cryotherapy(cold treatment) in the sports medicine and strength/conditioning community. Here’s my stance: Use whole body cold treatment to help with recovery, don’t waste your time icing a sprained ankle.
What I mean by that is local icing for an inflamed joint is not effective. It’s effective at numbing the area but doesn’t help with the healing process the way we thought it used to. In fact, the original physician that came up with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) recently changed his stance on this to take icing out of use for acute injury.
When I say using whole-body cold treatment for recovery I am referring to things like ice baths and whole body cryotherapy chambers. The effects of these two forms of treatment for recovery are two-fold. First, much like the Marc Pro and Recovery Pump, we get a pushing of fluid to the torso. This occurs due to vasoconstriction of the blood vessels in the legs/arms causing more blood to be directed toward the vital organs in the torso. Increased fluid to the torso equals better nutrient/oxygen exchange and increased potential to rebuild after a tough training session.
The second positive effect is essentially a jumpstart to the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system that helps predominantly with relaxation and recovery. Increased parasympathetic function leads to increased potential to recover and recuperate from hard training.
Neither of these are exactly something I look forward to since I don’t like to be cold. I would say between the ice bath and whole body cryotherapy the easier of the two to tolerate is the whole body cryotherapy.
If you want to train as hard as a professional athlete or Olympian you need to prioritize recovery just like they do. You have one body, you had better take care of it. If you’re really looking for that competitive edge, a better recovery strategy is your key to success.
Sign up for our first Recovery Night! Click here to learn all the details (a doughnut is involved!).
Recently, our company has made a major addition to what we offer our athletes. It’s a big chamber that you stand in and it gets filled up with a gas form of liquid nitrogen. If that doesn’t sound weird enough yet, it gets to -200 degrees fahrenheit and you stand in there in your underwear for 3 minutes.
As ridiculous and crazy as that might sound, we pulled the trigger on adding this to our new facility in Decatur. We had plenty of skeptical friends and family members ask us why and I wanted to take the opportunity to address “the why” with all of you as well.
First I want to define our goal as a company. We are here to help everyone achieve their athletic goals, period. That could be through physical therapy as we get an injured person back to training. Developing strength programming for a runner to help them stay injury-free. Even taking someone post rotator cuff tear repair back to competitively performing the Olympic lifts again. If you have a body, you’re an athlete in our eyes.
A trend over the past few years in professional athletics has been the addition of Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) to the training regiment of these professional athletes. I’m fortunate as an educator with the MobilityWOD group that I get exposed to cutting edge technology that these professionals seek out for an advantage. WBC is something I kept seeing over and over at pro/division I college teams.
The last straw for me was when I saw Dr. James Andrews, MD had agreed to come on as the chair of the advisory board for Impact Cryotherapy. He had added these WBC units to his performance and rehab facility in Florida as well.
Dr. Andrews is one of the most well respected Orthopedic Surgeons in the US and has become famous for his Tommy John elbow surgery that he’s performed on countless professional MLB players.
At the time of me finding out about Dr. Andrews I had started doing my own research review on WBC. Like most things the research was mixed both showing positive outcomes and stating that more research was needed. As somone one that has been a part of big research studies, I can tell you more research is always needed! I can also tell you that research is typically 5 years behind what very progressive strength coaches and practitioners are doing. We want to be on the cutting edge and we want to give our athletes every advantage out there.
In regards to the science we do currently know about WBC, it’s very promising. Some of the interesting effects we are able to get with WBC exposure are:
The second approach we use this for is the accelerated treatment of post-surgical patients. This is one of the ways they are using cryotherapy in professional teams, with very successfully results. Essentially, if we can expose our athletes to this stimulus early on and often we can expedite the rehab process. What if your doctor told you that you could expect 9 months before returning to sport activities after a shoulder surgery. That’s a long time to be inactive. Well, what if we could cut that down to 6 months? That’s what we are doing with this technology!
I think in the next 3-5 years, you will see many more clinics like the one we have established in Decatur. This technology is the real deal and we are so excited to be able to help our athletes on a whole new level. It’s one thing to read about it but it’s an entirely different thing to experience it yourself!
If you’re interested in trying this out yourself, give us a call. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have. We’ll make sure you’re a good fit for what we do and can get you set up with an appointment.
Dr. Danny and Dr. Jackie's views on performance improvement, injury prevention and sometimes other random thoughts.