Ever wonder why some people seem to be CrossFit machines and don’t have to take days off? Chances are, these people are not freaks of nature – they are probably just focusing on their recovery more than you are.
Recovery comprises everything you do outside of the WoD to prepare yourself to perform. It is is just as important as the WoD itself – the better your recovery strategy, the harder you are able to train and the faster you will make progress. Recovery methods vary by individual. Some people require more stretching and warmup, whereas others may be more sensitive to sleep and nutrition. The following list will introduce you to recovery strategies and give you some things to work on. I urge you to give these things a try and see how you feel!
Drink more water. Drink water during workouts. Drink water after workouts. Drink water all day long. Seriously. I fill up my water bottle a lot during the day. My boss probably thinks I have the smallest bladder in the world. I’ve also noticed that sometimes I think I’m hungry when I’m really just thirsty. Instead of reaching for food first, try drinking a glass of water and see if that’s what your body is telling you. More water = more awesome.
The average person only sleeps 5-7 hours per night. A week of sleeping only five hours per night will impact your coordination and reaction speed as much as being drunk. A lack of sleep will inhibit your creative thinking, judgement and logic, and ability to learn new skills! To perform well and train hard, we need 7-9 hours every night. I average 8 hours of sleep per weeknight, and sometimes closer to 10 on the weekends. A regular sleep schedule during the work week also really helps me keep a consistent routine. Don’t text me past 10pm - I’m already sleeping!
See this infographic for more information about sleep.
Everyday there is a warm-up posted on the whiteboard. Do it. There is a reason why our coaches choose these specific exercises each day – it’s to warm up your body for the lifts and workout ahead. If you don’t warm-up your body properly, you are going to end up sore, or even worse, injured. If you ever feel like you’re not warmed up enough after the written warm-up, do a little bit more.
Properly warming up will:
- Increase the speed of contraction and relaxation of your muscles.
- Reduce muscle stiffness.
- Facilitate improved nerve transmission and muscle recruitment through higher temperatures.
- Mentally prepare you for training.
Mobility is so important! Ever been in the middle of a workout and feel familiar aches and pains creeping in and distracting you? No one wants to be in the middle of a set of 100 burpees and feel their lower back cramp up. I’ve been there – it sucks, and it’s totally avoidable!
I’ve recently added in weekly yoga classes (ours are Sunday at 10am) to my routine and I’m trying to show up early to the gym (and stay later) to stretch before working out. My hamstrings, lower back, and quads tend to get the brunt of soreness. If I feel myself tightening up on the way home from a workout, I do a hot epsom salt bath for 20 minutes, and then stretch afterwards in my living room. For all the ladies out there (and men, I won’t judge), CVS Pharmacy has wonderful lavender-scented epsom salts – it’s like being at a spa!
For more mobility tips, check out Mobility WOD. Also, look around the gym, there are posters with lots of good mobility exercises.
Taking a Break
Some people are just not going to be made for doing CrossFit for days on end. If you find your body feeling more than just sore, you might need to take a day or two off. That doesn’t mean you are weak, it means you are human. If you have certain goals in mind (such as strength or endurance), talk to your coaches and figure out a schedule that works for you.
Note: If you’re in the process of trying to work up to a heavier volume of work, you might feel pretty sore in the beginning, and additional work while sore might be good for you. Again, talk to your coaches to make sure you’re being smart about it.
If you are injured – TAKE TIME OFF. Injuries need rest to heal. Trust me, as a person who fractured her ankle a few months ago – you need to listen to your body if you are hurt.
Next time in Part Two – what we put in our bodies can also help us recover (or not)…