“A decline in performance should lead to a search for its cause and to a focus on the quality of your recovery. Remember, often doing less is more powerful than training more.”
There are two types of injuries that come from training. These can be identified as acute or chronic injuries. For the sake of simplicity, acute injuries are those that occur from traumatic injury (ie sprain from rolling ankle, hamstring tear from sprinting) and chronic injuries due to overuse, bad movement patterns, and inflammation.
While it’s easy to understand how important exercise is to get in better shape many neglect how important recovery is for longevity (lifelong fitness).
For instance, I believe most recreational athletes train approximately 5 hours a week. From my observation, most of these athletes are only spending less than 1 hour a week on recovery. That’s a 5:1 ratio of work-to-recovery. My hypothesis is that chronic injuries are occurring due to the disproportional ratios of work-to-recovery.
It’s my recommendation that athletes move towards a 2:1 or 1:1 method of work-to-recovery. So if your training for 5 hours a week you should be doing 2.5-5 hours of recovery treatments a week also. This ratio creates a greater buffer from chronic injuries due to over-training and under-recovering.
“But I don’t have time to stretch for 5 hours a week”
“Stretching is so boring”
I’m not an idiot or insane enough to propose that you need to stretch for that long in order to train. Thank goodness there are others ways to recover.
Recovery methods can be categorized as “active” or “passive.”
I define passive recovery methods as those which you can do to yourself without a specialist. These include but are not limited to stretching, mobility, yoga, self-massage, foam rolling, ice & heat, electrical stimulation, swimming, light therapy, etc. The benefit of passive methods is they are more accessible and cheaper than active modalities.
I define recovery methods that are active as those that require expert help or assistance. These include but are not limited to massage, chiropractic, partner stretching, acupuncture, scraping, etc. Active recovery methods require no work from you but cost much more money and time.
For example, I will use a real-life scenario of someone who applied this protocol. We have a very active male in his early 30’s who trained CrossFit 3x last week and ran a 5k (30minutes). That equates to 3.5 hours of training (work). In that time he stretched a total of 30minutes, got a 1-hour massage, a 20-minute ice bath, and used the Tens Unit for 20 minutes. That equated to 2 hours and 10 minutes of recovery. His work-to-recovery ratio was very close to 1:1. Not only was his training very consistent he was able to train pain and soreness free because of it. I know that for a fact because the case study was me!
Do The Math
I think we need to get more honest with ourselves about how we are recovering, or the lack thereof, the same way we are about how we are training. If you have a chronic injury that hasn’t gone away yet I can bet that it isn’t going to go away unless you do something about it. Like your job, log your hours to help create more self-awareness. What you will find is the more time you spend in recovery the better you feel and the less pain you will have.