Category Archives: Recovery

Smart Recovery Improves Your Longevity

Hey there Team!
If you have been reading my blog for a while, chances are you have read a thing or two about recovery. That is no coincidence! I think recovery is a very under utilized tool in our lives. It’s almost like we don’t want to really talk about it, as if it’s not cool to look after yourself. Let’s change that!

"Most people are not over-trained, 
they are under-recovered."

-Joe Holder

I mean, it’s the guy in the office (Larry) that brags about the amount of training that he did that morning on almost no sleep, coffee and 2 Ibuprofen, that gets the “oh, wow, he’s cool”. Compare that to Dan who opted for no Netflix the night before, who did some Yoga or meditation instead and was in bed by 9pm. In our society Dan typically doesn’t get the same “cool” factor. He should though. Dan is setting himself up for success in the long term, whereas Larry is on his way to burn out and have plenty of injuries.

“Just focusing all on the training, and not on the recovery, can be a big mistake!” [1]

I have worked with professional athletes who had to do fewer and less intense workouts for a couple of months, because they had injured themselves in racing. In this case it was falling off a bike and landing on the head. Even though their training volume was drastically reduced they came back way stronger the following season!

Crazy huh?! Well, not really. Being chronically over-trained and under-recovered is not where you want to be for optimal performance. Sometimes it takes a serious injury to understand where you are.

“We want people to be exercising for life, you know exercise is medicine, it’s the best you can do for your body, for prevention of pretty much every disease, so we want people to exercise for a lifetime.” [2]

There is a lot of hype about the best and newest recovery methods, and sometimes it’s not easy to know what makes the most sense. Dr. Shona Halson, a former Senior Recovery Physiologist at the Australian Institute of Sport, and currently Associate Professor in the School of Behavioral and Health Sciences at the Australian Catholic University, highlights how we can best maximize our recovery time.

 

The core Foundations are:
Sleep and Nutrition (including hydration.)

Then add on:
Massage, (Great for muscle repair and for balancing the Nervous System)
Soft Tissue Work, Mobility
Compression (socks)
Stretching, Yoga
Meditation, Float Tanks
Cold Showers
Cold Water Immersion (ocean, lake, river)
Ice-Baths (use as “icing on the cake”)

For more detail check out this great podcast from TRAINED with Ryan Flaherty and Dr. Shona Halson with tonnes of knowledge.

Some often misread signs of under-recovery are fatigue and irritability. So why should a weekend warrior or just an active person care about recovery?

Who cares, right? It’s not like I’m about to go to the Olympics or anything. Well, it’s the smartest strategy for making sure that you are injury free, that you feel good and aren’t sore all the time, so that you can be consistent and be able to go out there and do whatever it is that you want to do! For the rest of your life…just saying… 😉

“Rest days are good too! Adaptation happens in rest.” [3]

Why not write down a list of what you use today in terms of recovery on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Is the list very short? What can you add to it? Maybe start investing in a monthly massage or get a foam-roller, or why not both? Are you able to make it to the sauna once in a while, or take a bath with added epsom salt? How is your sleep? What about meditation?

There are many small things that you can do to improve on your recovery, but you have to start doing them. Make space in your calendar and take care of yourself! You will feel better and your athletic performance will improve as well. What’s not to like?!

Wishing you a great weekend with lots of smart recovery!
😉

 


[1,2,3] Excerpts from the Podcast Trained: Shona Halson – How Recovery Can Push You Forward in Unexpected Ways
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Photo by Katee Lue on Unsplash

Got Your Diagnosis? Now ask – WHY?!

Hey there Team!
I hope that you are all doing very well, and are able to enjoy the longer days outdoors.
What does it really mean to get a diagnosis? Is that the real answer to our difficulties? Does it mean that we should stop thinking about problem solving as soon as we hear “your diagnosis is XYZ”? Let’s first take a look at what the word diagnosis really means.

diagnosis
/ˌdʌɪəɡˈnəʊsɪs/
noun: diagnosis; plural noun: diagnoses
the identification of the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms.

OK, so based on looking at the symptoms we should be able to ID the nature of the problem. Meaning, if I have a swollen knee, the nature of the problem is probably inflammation. In that case my diagnosis is inflammation in the knee. A typical treatment would be to eat anti-inflammatory pills, and stay away from sports, right. We all recognize this type of scenario.

Now, if you just got bitten in your knee by a huge spider, rat or the neighbors crazy kid, this kind of treatment makes perfect sense. Maybe you crashed from your bike? However, I dare to say that this is not the typical case scenario.

In that case (so in pretty much all the cases) you need to start asking WHY? OK, so you have inflammation in your knee, but why? Is it because you just started a new exercise program, and you haven’t done that many squats in decades? If so, are you doing enough mobility exercises every day to help your body getting used to the new load? Is your form really good? Ask your coach, find out what you need to work on. Do you have good hip range of motion (ROM)? If not, that could compromise the position of your knee, forcing your knees to collapse inwards. Are you sitting all day at work?

How is your hydration and nutrition? Was your appendix taken out? Are you sometimes constipated? This can have an impact on the blood circulation, lymph system and organ system. If there is an imbalance there, it can create adhesion and feed chronic inflammation over time. Chronic inflammation will weaken your body, but you typically don’t notice it until you are asking more of your body and find a weak spot. In this case your knee.

When getting a diagnosis, ask yourself – Why? Not in a self-pity way, but in a science way. OK, so what are all the possibilities for creating inflammation in my knee? In which of those areas can I improve? How can I help my body on as many levels as possible?

If your Thyroid is a mess, ask Why? Read books, listen to podcasts, find out what nutrients your thyroid needs to feel good. What can you do to make sure that those nutrients are absorbed? What things might be good to exclude?

If you keep rolling your ankles and it takes them a long time to heal, it might be worth looking into the effects of too much cortisol in your body, and how that weakens the ligaments. What could you do to lower the levels of cortisol?

If your answer to the WHY is “it’s genetics” or “bad luck” or “I guess it’s the age” I believe that you have given up on all the amazing things that your body is capable of. Remember, the default mode of the body is to heal itself. Often it’s us who gets in the way, or take the easy way out thinking medication will fix it for us. A diagnosis often describes the symptoms, but seldom tells us the root cause of those symptoms.

Of course it’s not easy to try and figure out all the different whys and mechanisms behind a certain diagnosis. If that was the case we would have solved cancer by now, right?! But understanding the many different mechanisms behind a certain diagnosis, might broaden your horizons and make you see something you haven’t before. And maybe improving in that area, will improve other areas as well.

“Eating food is the biggest variable in our lives. The biggest. So why not eat the best? Why not eat nutrients instead of calories and you watch your body rebuild and transform.”
-Dr. Robert Zembroski on Impact Theory

Here is the really interesting podcast/video on this topic with Dr. Robert Zembroski.

 

Keep asking WHY and have a great weekend!
😉

 


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Best Footwear for Summer – Flip Flops?!

Hey there Team!
Having entered into the month of May, summer is just around the corner. Typically with warm weather and sunny skies our footwear changes. If you live by a beach, or are planning to spend a lot of time in flip flops this summer, make sure you check out this article.

I have talked about this before, but I think it’s an important reminder to check up on. Wearing any kind of footwear that makes you have to clench your toes when you walk, is really bad for the underside of your feet. This can translate into all sorts of problems, but often shows up as a concern underneath your feet, shins and lower leg.

Read the article below to figure out the best way to treat your feet! Prevention is the key, so be smart about your footwear

Photo by Evan Krause on Unsplash

.

Have a great time flipping though the weekend!
😉

By the way, real athletes don’t wear flip flops


Photo by Evan Krause on Unsplash

Tight Hip Flexors Weakens Your Breathing!

Hey there Team!
I hope you had a few nice days off during Easter and were able to spend some time outside. We had amazing (!) weather over here, so I was lucky enough to bike to the beach a few times. It was quite windy though, and I had to push hard on the pedals more than a few times. Breathing hard and being on a bike made me think about lung capacity. It’s a normal train of thought, right? 😉

Did you know that tight hip flexors (often seen in cyclists, but even more so for people who sit on a chair during many hours of the day) can decrease your lung capacity? Well, how does that work?

When your hip flexors are tight they pull your hips into a forward (anterior) position. This extra tension makes it harder for your diaphragm to do its work. If the diaphragm is unable to fully expand it means that you will not be able to inhale as much air as your body wants and needs. For instance, less air into your lungs means that you will have less oxygenation of your muscles.

Less oxygen, less power.
Less oxygen, less recovery, less power…

Dr. Kevin Kirsch explains it short and sweet in this video. He is an Art Of Breath Instructor with Power Speed Endurance. Check it out.

 

Try out the different positions once and see how it feels. Tilt your hips forward as far as you can (just like in the video), and then take a deep breath. Then bring your hips back into a neutral position and take a deep breath here. Notice how much easier it gets to breath deeply when your hips are in a good position. Imagine the impact that can have over a longer period of time.

Here are two previous articles that includes the couch stretch, and also here. I hope this can motivate you, coming from a different angle, to work on those hip flexors. I mean, who doesn’t want their breathing to be as effective as possible?!

Being aware of your breathing is the first step. Now go out there and practice.

Have a great weekend freeing up those hip flexors!
😉

 


What about the LAST minutes of a workout?

Hey there Team!
Last week we took a look at the first couple of minutes of your run or  workout, and what that could look like. Getting your body ready to perform, should always be a part of your workout. What about the last minutes of your workout though? Are they really that important? “I’m no pro-athlete so who cares, right?”

I would say that they are just as important – if you want a well performing and injury free body for many years to come. I hear exactly the same reasons here though, as I do for why people don’t warmup properly. “I don’t have the time” and “I gotta get the workout in” and “I gotta get to work”. Let’s look at it from a completely different perspective.

Imagine that you have just invested a huge amount of money into a race horse called Black Thunder. This amazing horse is expected to have a long and successful career. How do you think you would feel if you found out that Herb the trainer had put him straight into his box after finishing his race without a cool down?

Not only that, Herb leaves him there until the next day.  Then he brings him straight to the starting line for a race, without any kind of warmup. Would you bet on your own horse winning that day? Would you be surprised to hear that Black Thunder had gotten injured if that practice continued? My guess is that you probably would fire Herb as soon as you could, if he didn’t start taking better care of your horse.

Ok, ok this story might a bit extra dramatic, but really, isn’t this what we do all the time to ourselves? The only differences is how surprised we get when we get injured, even though we still haven’t fired Herb!

So, what to do? I like to try and outsmart myself. Meaning, I leave myself with only one option, and that option is a good one. For example, I take my bike to my CrossFit Gym. That way I have an automatic extra warmup and cool down built in by default. If you are in a Gym, hop onto a bike, a rower or a foam roller for a couple of minutes. Move that lactic acid out of your body nice and easy.

Targeted warm up + Performance + Cool down
= a Workout

Is there a cool down included in your group workout? Awesome! But, you also should ask yourself “Is this enough for me today, or do I need a few more minutes?” If so, hop on that bike or rower, jog slowly, take a walk, or use a foam roller. Your coach is often very limited in the time that they have with you, and it’s your responsibility to add more minutes to the cool down when you need it.

In conclusion:
Make sure you look after the amazing Black Thunder. Have a good long talk with Herb, or just fire him! Set yourself up for a winning strategy in the long run. Make sure the last few minutes of your workout are easy, allowing you to cool down. When you can, add some mobility exercises to work on your tougher areas, later during the day or evening.

 

Keep working on those workouts, and have an amazing weekend!
😉

 



You’re Not Over-Trained. You’re Under-Recovered!

Hey there Team!
How is everyone doing this week? As I am writing this the sun is shining and the weather is absolutely smashing! I do hope it stays like this for a couple of days. Just this week I completed a 10 day liver-detox-fast. Phew! Since I didn’t have to food-prep or cook, which usually takes up quite a bit of my time, I had some extra time to listen to podcasts.

"Most people are not over-trained, they are under-recovered."
-Joe Holder

I came across this one, optimizing your performance with Nike Master Trainer Joe Holder, and it’s such a good one! The Podcast is called Plant Proof, with Simon Hill, episode 52.

For Joe, it all started with being an athlete, but also with his family and the value system that they raised him with. His family was very nutritionally aware and ahead of their time in terms of how they were looking at food. Having the right mindset and critical thinking were also important topics for them.

“Culture had to be created by someone. Who says that we have to adhere to the rules, instead of creating our own personal manifesto and culture, to maximize our results.”
-Joe Holder

It would take Joe a couple of nasty sports injuries, to start digging deeper into why his body wasn’t healing so well. “Doctors couldn’t really tell me why my body wasn’t healing.” Together with his father he started to look into foods for the solution. But, also along that path he started to realize that “my emotional state was hindering my body’s natural healing.”

This led him onto a journey of working on fixing the physical but also the emotional parts of his body. Using meditation, nutrition [focusing on nutrient dense foods that seemed to have an increased link to healing], pain management from a mental state and traditional rehab exercises, he was able to return to his sport much quicker than anticipated. All of these different tools are at the base of his training system called the Ocho System.

These are just some of the many topics that Joe and Simon talk about. Without giving away any more golden nuggets, I really encourage you to check out this interesting  and inspirational podcast.

Have an amazing weekend!
😉

 

 



Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
https://www.sakara.com/blogs/mag/joe-holder-interview
https://plantproof.com/optimising-your-performance-with-nike-master-trainer-joe-holder/

Quick Study on the Spleendid Spleen

Hey there Team!
Right now I’m back in school for the next couple of days, at the International School of Osteopathy. The focus this time around is the stomach, pancreas and spleen. Now most of us have a pretty good idea of what the stomach does. It’s where all lot of the digestion happens, right.

What about the pancreas? It has a couple of different functions, but mainly we think of this organ as regulating our blood sugar. Not a small job in this day and age, with all the processed foods and sugar everywhere around us.

But then it gets interesting. What do you actually know about the spleen? Do you even know where it is? You will find your spleen next to the rib cage on the left side of your body, between ribs 9-11. Here are a couple of cool things that the Spleen does.

  • The Spleen filters our blood by getting rid of damaged or sick red blood cells.
  • It is part of the lymphatic system which fights infections.
  • It stores specialized immune cells ready to fight bacteria and infections. It’s like having your own army of Navy SEALs just waiting to get to work. Pretty sweet!
  • The Spleen stores a large part of the body’s platelets. Their job is to help your blood to clot, which stops bleeding in a wound.
  • You can live without your spleen. However, without your own Navy SEALs team you will be a lot more vulnerable to bacteria and infections.

Here is a video of just over a minute, giving you a quick overview of how things work.

I bet you didn’t know all of the cool functions that the Spleen has. But now you do! As always, no one organ works alone in the body. So, to help the spleen with the defense work, go on the offense and take good care of your whole body.

I wish you all a spleendid weekend!
😉



Photo by jan abellan on Unsplash

The Recovery Process – A Secret Weapon

Recently I listened to a podcast with LeBron James and his trainer Mike Mancias. LeBron James is one of THE best basketball players of all time. Mark, his trainer and recovery specialist, is sometime referred to as his secret weapon. They’ve been working together for more than 14 years. What really stood out to me in this podcast, is how much emphasis LeBron and Mike puts into the Process of recovery, every single day. In order to stay injury-free,  and be able to play consistently at an extremely high level.

“Recovery never ends, recovery never stops.”
-Mike Mancias

When we look up to athletes that we think are awesome, we pretty much only focus on how hard and intense their work-outs are. It’s easy then to do a quick copy and paste on some kind of version of that, for our lives.

Meaning we focus almost exclusively on what kind of training we should be doing. It makes sense since the main focus on athletes are when they are competing in their Arena, and we see their incredible performance.

The thing that not a lot of people see though, is the work behind the Arena. Just like LeBron, the top athletes that I have worked with over the years are all consistent performers on behind the scenes stuff, in particular recovery. It might not be the sexiest part of living an athletic lifestyle, but as Mike says “it’s a never ending process…that’s the approach we must take, in order for us to be successful and provide longevity for these guys.”

“it’s a never ending process…that’s the approach we must take, in order for us to be successful and provide longevity for these guys.”
-Mike Mancias

 

LeBron who already has had a long and amazing career, is still playing, and is not planning on quitting anytime soon. He contributes his success to being consistent with the Process. The Process of his recovery work, hydration, eating clean and training.

When it comes to Nutrition, Mike and LeBron work along the lines of “less is more, keep it simple, eat organic, no artificial ingredients”. They make a conscious decision of eating clean and staying away from artificial drinks, artificial sugars and fried foods consistently during the 9 months of basketball season.

-Ok, sure. But, that’s their job. I’m not an Athlete, why do I have to care about this? If it takes all that work to play continuously at a top level in sports, don’t you think you need to do some work in order to “play well” in your life? If you want to have a life of quality – whatever that means to you – you are going to have to put in some work. Period.

So what can you do for your recovery work? The easiest place to start is to plan in some kind of mobility work daily. Make a conscious effort of when and where you are going to do it. Here is a good place to start.

I often suggest to sit on the floor and do some mobility exercises during the first 10 minutes of watching Netflix, TV or similar. It’s easy because it’s time that you already have. It’s just a conscious decision of doing a few simple moves on the floor, instead of flopping onto the couch immediately.

Start thinking about what you can you do in your life to create a Process that helps you being fitter and more energizedHow would that Process look like in terms of Hydration, Nutrition and Recovery work?

Work on implementing that plan, and have a great weekend!
😉

"A good plan implemented 
today 
is better than 
a perfect plan implemented 
tomorrow."
-George Patton

 

 


Listen to the full podcast of #349 of the Tim Ferriss show here.
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Crush the Ski Holiday – Not Your Body

What if, out of the blue, you found out that you were going to an outdoors sports-camp for 3-4 days. You would be doing movements you haven’t done for ages, maybe years even, for 6-8 hours a day.

Would you get a bit nervous about the whole thing? Maybe you would start worrying about injuring yourself? What are you going to do about that troublesome knee? What about keeping the energy up all day?

In this case scenario, starting with warming up the major joints in your body, to reduce potential injury is a very good idea. Making sure that you are properly hydrated before, during and after the work-outs is also an important piece. Do you think drinking alcohol would benefit you? Do you think the food you eat might have an impact on your performance? What about the amount of sleep?

Reading this you probably think – ja, ja, ja I’ve heard it all before. Of course it makes sense.

Why then, does all of this logical thinking seem to go straight out the window when it comes to a Ski Holiday? It’s like because we are on Holiday, we don’t really need to pay attention, or something?!

A ski holiday is very different from a beach holiday, so it would be a good idea to tackle it differently. Not many people come back from beach vacations with broken bones and torn ligaments, now do they?

 

The very, very least that you can do to minimize damage is the following. First, make sure that you are properly hydrated. Bring a small back-pack so you always have easy access. Minimize the coffee, sodas and definitely the alcohol.

Second, do a targeted warm-up to open up your joints. Remember, if something doesn’t move very well, something else has to move a lot more. And this is often the area that gets injured because it has to overcompensate.

Accidents happen all the time, and never at the “right time”.

Thinking that you’re going to warm up on the slope is a bad idea. Accidents happen all the time, and never at the “right time”. For extra recovery go into the sauna in the evening, if you have the opportunity. If you only have time for one stretch in the evening, then I suggest you do the Couch Stretch.

Check out the video below. If it seems too technical for you, just give it a go anyways. Otherwise, do something similar for the same amount of time. Get those joints moving and warmed up!

If you think a 10min investment in your body and your health is too much in exchange for 6-8 hrs of problem free skiing a day, then don’t complain when your knees are hurting. Or when you can hardly get out of the car after driving home. Or when you are in the emergency room instead of enjoying the day with your friends.

I suggest starting with these exercises even before your holidays. Get yourself ready, so you can enjoy every day in the snow. For targeted mobility work for your hips and back after long car drives, check this out. Don’t know your Hydration Formula yet?

Take care of your body, and it will take care of you!
😉

 

 

 

 



Photo by Mason Jones on Unsplash
Photo by Alex on Unsplash

Four Songs to Improve Your Knees and Low Back

November is here! I hope you guys had a fun Halloween! Being in the darker months of the year we tend to spend more time sitting indoors. All that sitting makes for stiff muscles. Those stiff muscles can then cascade into more serious problems like back pain. We can all agree that being in pain is not exactly something that improves your daily quality of life. 

So let’s stay ahead of the game, and iron out those stiff muscles before they can start to trouble other areas. 

At my gym this week we did a lot of quad (upper thigh) work and since these muscles also get very stiff when we sit, I thought we should zero in on them quads. 

To loosen things up we are going to start with a smash on the quads. My favorite tool for this is the rumble roller, but of course you can use any foam roller. A lacrosse ball works well too. 

Remember to give yourself a little bit of time as you start out so that you really sink into the muscle. Take a couple of deep breaths and feel the muscle relax a bit as you sink deeper into the roller. From here you want to SLOWLY roll side to side. If you go to fast you will only work on the surface and not get deep into the muscle where all the tightness is. In the video they also use a voodoo band. If you’ve got one, you know what to do. If you’ve never heard of a voodoo band, don’t worry and just go on without it. 

Watch the video (jump to 1:12) and then pick two songs you like. For the length of the first song, smash your right quad. For the length of the second song, smash your left quad. Here are the songs I am currently using for this, number one and number two.

Ok, great. Now we have softened up the tissues a bit. Time to get some length in them with this active couch stretch. If you learn to do this right, this is a life saver of a stretch. It’s really important to pay attention to all the details.

Too often people aim to get their back to the wall. It’s not about reaching the wall- it’s about improving from where you are. You can use a towel instead of an ab-mat if you need to. Start out low, with your upper body at about 45 degrees, tighten your butt and then SLOWLY move your back towards the wall.

If you do not tighten your butt (activating your glutes in technical talk) you will put too much pressure on the disks in your lower back. This is not what you want. So, get into the right position and stay there for as long as you can. If you need to you can come out of it by moving your upper body forward for a few seconds. Then get back at it. Tighten your butt again and move towards the wall once more. 

OK, lets go! Pick a third and a fourth song for the right and left side. 

Four songs later, if you have just done these exercises, well done! You have now opened up your hips, and elongated your quads. Your knees and back will thank you. I think we can even stretch to say that you have improved on your quadity of life!

Pre-hab is much better than re-hab.
Let’s get to work tigers, and have a smashing weekend!

😉


Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash