To Maximize Your Recovery After Training, Do These 4 Things

I’ve decided to take a brief hiatus from discussing the details of proper training so that I can provide you with some specific techniques for accelerating your recovery.  (Then we’ll dive back into a bunch more exciting details about optimizing your training so you can reach your goals safer and faster.)

To recover effectively and consistently, you have to know what to do in each phase of recovery you’re in, because you have four distinct windows of opportunity to maximize your return from your training:

  1. Immediately after you’re done
  2. Within 3 hours of training
  3. The 2-3 days while you’re recovering
  4. After 8-10 weeks of consistent and progressively challenging training

In this article, we’re going to look at what happens to you immediately after training, and discuss 4 ways you can take advantage of that altered state to maximize your super-compensation and minimize your downtime.


1.  Static Stretching: Retune Your Body and Improve the Remodeling Process

If you were to put brand new strings on a guitar and then tune it up and play it for a while, it would go out of tune pretty quickly. To make decent music, it would need to be re-tuned. When you break your muscles and connective tissues down, they are forced to remodel. To make sure they remodel properly, they also have to be ‘retuned’.


Static Stretching Retunes Your Muscles

During remodeling, certain soft tissues like collagen rebuild randomly. Whatever state you leave your muscles in is how it fills things in (This is called Davis’s Law. Thanks, Davis.) And after an intense workout, muscles are not at their appropriate length. The tension of the workout has pulled them to a shorter length. If the soft tissue of the muscle remodels at this length, your new muscles will be slightly less flexible than your old muscles.[1]

Collagen proteins can also clump and cling into an adhesion that won’t let those muscle fibers contract properly. So after every bout of training, you need to reset your muscle fibers to their appropriate length and gently pull apart any clumping collagen.

How is that done? Well, if you can’t afford a regular masseuse, then your next best bet is simple, static stretching – right after training (not before!)
How much? 1-2 static holds of at least 45 seconds for each area trained will be enough to do the job. Don’t bounce, and don’t force yourself suddenly into a zone of massive tension. You are retuning, not ripping.

"1-2 static holds of at least 45 seconds for each area trained is enough to do the job."

Be calm and centered, and breathe slowly and deeply. Concentrate your attention on what you are stretching, and set your intention to coaxing it back to its desired length.

Your goal is to convince the nervous system to relax and to gently break apart adhesions, not to hyper-extend tendons and ligaments. Always remember: ligaments and tendons are supposed to be tight. Their one and only job is to hold your body together. You don’t want them to be loose!

NOTE: If you’re not sure what stretches to do, we will lay out some effective stretches for you in another article dedicated solely to enhancing your flexibility.


Stretching Fixes Imbalances that Lead to Injuries

Everyone who is training would benefit from a warm down stretch, but certain people will benefit from stretching even more. If any of your muscles are too tight, you run a much greater risk of injury.[2]

Muscle imbalances from overuse and under-use make you unable to perform at your peak.

"If any of your muscles are too tight, you run a much greater risk of injury."

There are a lot of causes of muscle imbalances. For example, if you overuse a muscle through pattern overload, it starts to forget how to relax. This causes cramps and chronic fatigue in that muscle. Other muscles start trying to compensate, but they’ll never be as good as the real deal.  When you see someone with an odd posture or a strange looking walk, they probably have this problem.

These compensations also dampen your output, because when those overactive muscles stay on all the time, your nervous system gets confused about what you’re doing.

Here’s why: whenever you do something in one direction, any muscle that would move you in the other direction gets turned off by your nervous system. Think about it - if your pushing and pulling muscles both fired the same amount of force at the same time, you’d have a horrible inner tug of war going on, with zero force output.

So, what do you think happens if you have an overactive pushing muscle that stays on when you try to pull something? Your whole operation gets compromised, because your nervous system doesn’t know if you’re pushing or pulling. [3]

Fortunately, the same static stretches I’ve already told you about are also capable of telling those overactive muscles to let go.

Here’s why it works:  Each muscle has something called a Golgi tendon organ, and one of its jobs is to force your muscle to relax when it senses too much tension. Stretch is a form of tension, and since that muscle is already contracting too much, a deep stretch will trip the GTO and will finally make your muscle relax. [4] It’s so simple, you have no excuse not to include it.


2.  Light Cardiovascular Cool-down: Clean Out the Metabolic Waste

Are you one of those people who eats a plate of pasta and then throws it into the dishwasher without rinsing it off? If so, you’re probably also one of those guys who doesn’t cool down with a few minutes of light cardio-vascular stimulation at the end of a training session.

You really need to start doing that. There’s lots of metabolic waste in your muscles and in your blood stream that your liver and kidneys have to process. Stopping cold turkey after intense training is just like throwing the pasta plate right into the dishwasher.

Light cardio activity, preferably full body movements so that all muscles are included (going for a swim, using the elliptical, jogging on uneven terrain) help to drain the trapped blood out of your muscles and clear out that metabolic waste. The slight elevation of your heart rate helps that junk get processed more quickly by your liver and kidneys. [5] And since it’s only a slight elevation, it also helps gently restore your body to a resting state.[6]

"Light cardio activity helps to drain trapped blood out of your muscles and clears our metabolic waste products."

It really doesn't take much. 5-10 minutes is all you need to get all the benefits.[7] You’re not training at this point, you’re cleaning up shop and cooling things down.


3.  Hydrotherapy - Remove Toxins and Reduce Swelling

Hydrotherapy is a fancy word for sitting in water for a while. Usually, cold water or hot water. The temperature of the water provides different benefits. Hot water aids in circulation and waste removal by increased sweating. Cold water reduces inflammation and swelling and helps restore an elevated body temperature to normal.

Contrasting hydrotherapy takes advantage of both by rotating between the two a few times. Studies comparing different forms of hydrotherapy have found that cold works best, contrast works just about as well, and hot alone does very little for you that some light cardio wouldn’t do better.[8],[9],[10]

So when you’re done with your cool-down cardio activity, take a shower. Start it out hot, and slowly cool it down. Spend the last few minutes under nothing but cold water. It’s a zinger! If you’re like me, first you’ll be a little pissed off at the cold water, and then you’ll start laughing about it, and when it’s done, you’ll feel incredibly rejuvenated.


4.  Jow: Your Secret Weapon for Maximal Recovery

No matter what you’re training for, one of your greatest advantages will come from the regular application of the right kind of jow to your stressed tissues. As you know, there are many forms of jow, each with its own benefits and strengths. Some jows are designed to enhance the conditioning of your tissues, others exist primarily to heal bruising and decrease inflammation, and some do both. There’s not space in this article to delve into all the details about jow formulas, so I’m going to point you to three of our most trusted solutions:

Ancestors Advanced Dit Da Jow – if your training was optimal or maybe a little on the light side, Ancestors will be a perfect choice for you, because it significantly enhances your conditioning efforts and deepens the stimulus from your training, but won’t do as much for soreness or bruising.

Ho Family Dit Da Jow – if your training was optimal and intense, and you know you’re going to have some soreness for the next couple days, Ho Family is the way to go. It will enhance your conditioning and accelerate your healing and reduce your soreness.

Bruise Juice - if you’ve over-trained and you know you're going to be very sore from it, use Bruise Juice. It’s powerfully anti-inflammatory, it helps reduce swelling, soreness, pain, and it heals bruising and traumatized tissue much more quickly.

If you under-train sometimes and over-train at other times, you’d benefit most from have all 3 on hand, so you can enhance every recovery situation you find yourself in. ***If you do choose get one of each, we’ll give you one of them free.*** Just add one of each to your cart and the discount will process automatically.


Summing it Up

What’s great about these effective solutions is that they all feel good, they all complement each other, and none of them are time consuming. When you’re done training, do a comfortable light cool down cardio session, then ease into a brief stretching routine, breathing deeply the whole time. Take a long shower and ease it from hot to cold. Finish with the right kind of jow. Do all of these on a regular basis, and you’ll be amazed at the difference.



[1] Woo SLY, Buckwalter JA. Injury and Repair of the Musculoskeletal Soft Tissues. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 1987.
[2] Witvrouw E, Danneels L, Asselman P, D'Have T, Cambier D. Muscle flexibility as a risk factor for developing muscle injuries in male professional soccer players. A prospective study. Am J Sports Med. 2003 Jan-Feb;31(1):41-6.
[3] Alter MJ. Science of Flexibility, 2nd Ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1996.
[4] Sady SP, Wortman M, Blanke D. Flexibility training: ballistic, static or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation? Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1982 Jun;63(6):261-3.
[5] Takahashi T, Miyamoto Y. Influence of light physical activity on cardiac responses during recovery from exercise in humans. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1998 Mar;77(4):305-11.
[6] Karvonen J. Importance of Warm-Up and Cool-Down on Exercise Performance. Med Sports Sci 1992;35:182-214.
[7] Carter R 3rd, Watenpaugh DE, Wasmund WL, Wasmund SL, Smith ML. Muscle pump and central command during recovery from exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol. 1999 Oct;87(4):1463-9.
[8] Ingram J, Dawson B, Goodman C, Wallman K, Beilby J. Effect of water immersion methods on post-exercise recovery from simulated team sport exercise. J Sci Med Sport. 2008 Jun 9.
[9] Bailey DM, Erith SJ, Griffin PJ, Dowson A, Brewer DS, Gant N, Williams C. Influence of cold-water immersion on indices of muscle damage following prolonged intermittent shuttle running. J Sports Sci. 2007 Sep;25(11):1163-70.
[10] Vaile J, Halson S, Gill N, Dawson B. Effect of hydrotherapy on recovery from fatigue. Int J Sports Med. 2008 Jul;29(7):539-44.

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