I have definitely noticed a spike in novel recovery techniques in the past year. Suddenly it seems every one is aware of and using some interesting recovery techniques, previously reserved only for athletes. I need to stress the point that scientific evidence behind a lot of these is anecdotal only; and for that reason I remain rather skeptical of a lot of them. However I have to admit that they do feel great to do. So for that reason, if nothing else, I may go to a few of these for relaxation.
If you look on instagram you will see many a sweaty model in a dimly lit sauna. The claim is that as it is a dry sauna, and lower temperature, you will be able to stay in longer, sweat more, and sweat out those elusive “toxins” that everyone seems to be yapping on about. The second something claims to “detox” your body of “toxins” I mentally check out. Our bodies are incredible at maintaining homeostasis (internal balance) and sitting in a sauna will make you sweat. But sweating out heavy metals? I don’t believe it.
But. MAN this feels great. Saunas rule in general! They leave you feeling relaxed and heavy. Perfect for after a workout, and if you want to relax before bed. I say go for it; but skip the stupid price tag, and find a good old-fashioned sauna. Or seek out an infrared that isn’t attached to a hotspot that charges you a stupid amount. I love doing infrareds at a secret location close to our house (I would have to kill you), which is cheap and chill. Worth it.
Again, looking on instagram you will find many a frozen model standing in a tube similar to Hans Solo getting frozen in carbonite in Cloud City. Basically you stand in a tube, liquid nitrogen gets poured into the tube, it gets extremely cold (-218), and after three minutes you get out. The claim is that it improves circulation, cellulite, reduces inflammation, aids in muscle recovery and repair, burns calories, helps sleep and mood, makes you better at tolerating cold etc.
I can say that the last point is not true. I was hoping it would make me tougher in shoots where the temperature is cold and I am not dressed appropriately… It does not. I repeat, it does not. Also this is not cheap.
As for the other aspects? Who knows. I have friends who swear by it, but I found that it didn’t really help my sore muscles that much. I did however enjoy the feeling; it felt amazing, and I did feel a surge of energy after. I am curious as to where that energy comes from though – is it my body warning me that I must get out of this situation as I may die? This feels great if you follow the freezing with a nice toasting in a sauna… Just a heads up. Another heads up – do not go in wet. You will get frostbite. And don’t go colder than is allowed. You will get frostbite.
THIS IS MY JAM! I am obsessed with this. You basically lie in a pod where all light and sound is gone, and you float in 1000 pounds of Epsom salted water (do not put your face under). Your body is completely supported, your brain has no stimuli except what is within, and you go some amazing places. The hour flies by, and you leave feeling like you have just been born. This is more of a mental recovery technique, be prepared for it. You may go somewhere in your head that you didn’t know about, but just go with it. It is character building.
Epsom salt bath
I love these. After a hard workout, I love nothing more than lying in a super hot bath, with a massive bag of Epsom salts dissolved in. I watch 30 Rock and crack open a punnet of cherry tomatoes. Yolo.
This is nice, I like. I like to be bruised and sore for days after a massage, so in periods of hard training I try to schedule them with a rest day after.
This hurts so good. Nothing gets my IT bands quite like my brutal foam roller. I have a travel sized one and a big mean one.
I stretch daily, and it is the best. I used to do ballet and am still quite flexible from it. Stretching makes you feel amazing.
We all know how I feel about meditation. It makes you physically tougher, mentally calmer and an overall happier person. If you workout your body, why not workout your brain?
Taking a nap
YES. That is all.
At the end of the day, what is the most simple and cheap is the most effective. My winning recovery techniques are meditation, naps, foam roller and stretching and Epsom salt baths. These require significantly less money than the others, and can be done at your own time, in the privacy of your own home. For me, using a sensory deprivation tank is the one I am happy to spend money on. The experience is like nothing else – you go places in your mind that you didn’t realize existed. I have fallen into deep meditation in them, seen strange things, and every time I come out the hour seems to have flown by. Plus the magnesium makes your muscles feel good!
Keep it simple; try everything once, and your body (and wallet) will thank you!