Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt is also known as magnesium sulphate. Our first restorative technique consists of bathing for 10 to 20 minutes in a warm/hot bath to which 200-400 grams of Epsom salt is added. This is a very simple and effective way to relax your muscles and decrease inflammation. Itís also a good way to increase blood magnesium levels and prevent bloating due to excessive water retention.
Restorative Pulse Electromyostimulation
Sub-tetanic (non-maximal) EMS utilized in a low-intensity pulsating manner can act much like a sports massage. It can stimulate blood flow to the muscles by creating a pumping effect. It can also induce a state of relaxation in the muscles and help breakdown adhesions between muscle fibers.
A discharge frequency of 1 to 9Hz is recommended for this purpose and the duration of the treatment should be 15 to 20 minutes. Intensity (current amperage) should be kept low. Yet another benefit of this type of EMS is an analgesic effect or a diminution of pain. This is best accomplished at a frequency of 5Hz.
One recovery method I find to be particularly effective is to drink a protein and carbohydrate shake and have an EMS recovery session 15 minutes after. This will bring a lot of amino acids and glucose to the muscle, speeding up its reconstruction and supercompensation.
This technique refers to ice massage. Put some baby oil on your muscle (to prevent shock) and put ice in the middle of your muscle belly. Start to gently massage the muscle in a circular motion with the ice. Gradually increase the diameter of the circles. Perform this action for five to ten minutes. This strategy is very effective at decreasing pain and excessive inflammation and can thus help prevent overuse injuries.
Contrast Baths and Showers
Alternate between 30 seconds of cold water and two minutes of hot water. Perform this cycle three or four times. This technique is very effective at increasing peripheral blood flow, thus facilitating recovery. Again, donít use this method if you're suffering from an overuse injury or excessive inflammation.
Glycogen/Protein Resynthesis Drinks
An ideal post-workout formula would include fast-absorbing proteins, high glycemic carbs, and some additional BCAAs (which have been shown to drastically increase protein synthesis and decrease protein breakdown on their own).
Neural Restorative Drinks
Emphasis on supplementation for increased neural efficiency has just begun to take its place in the sun. For a while it was something that only innovative coaches who were "in the know" utilized. Now it's really catching on.
At first, supplementing with nootropic supplements was used to potentiate a workout: basically you'd drink it 30 minutes or so before a session to maximize performance. And itís very effective at that. However, I recently began using it after a workout. Why? Because I found that using it this way can actually increase CNS recovery!
Contrary to what most people believe, massage therapy doesnít actually increase blood flow to the muscles (Shoemaker et al. 1997), so this isn't the mechanism of action for this particular restorative technique. However, massage still provides several benefits.
The duration of the massage treatment will vary depending on the size of the athlete and whether itís a localized or whole-body massage. Kurz, quoting Geselevich (1976), gives the following recommendations:
Bodyweight of 132lbs or less: whole body = 40 minutes, localized = 20 minutes
Bodyweight 133-165lbs: whole body = 50 minutes, localized = 25 minutes
Bodyweight 166-220lbs: whole body = 60 minutes, localized = 30 minutes
Bodyweight +220lbs: whole body = more than 60 minutes, localized = 35 minutes
-Localized massage can be performed as a self-massage (except for the back muscles, unless you're Cirque du Soleil material), while whole body massage requires hiring a therapist. Whole body massage is best used once or twice per week. Most athletes shouldn't have more than two whole body massages per week, unless they're in an overtraining state.
-Remember that progress is dependent on the amount of stimulation placed on your body and on the capacity of your body to deal with and recover from that stimulation. By using restoration techniques, you're actually working on both factors: by recovering faster and more completely, you're able to train more often and more intensely and your body can overcome the training stress more easily.