The Friday Five – Recovery

Recovery.

It is one of the most important words in an athletes vocabulary, but done wrong, it can undo all the hard work done in your training and therefore your ability to hit your short and long term goals.

I’m pretty terrible at recovering well, I tend to focus on the short term view – getting off the bike, not being sick and then collapsing on the floor / sofa / bed. So this blog is as much a reminder to myself as it is about sharing some of the tools available out there to aid recovery.

Firstly though, spending your hard earned cash on expensive recovery products is completely pointless if you don’t get the basics right. So before you read on make sure you are;

  • Properly hydrated – drinking enough water is critical to our overall health, not just our energy levels, muscle recovery and for efficient nutrient uptake.
  • Getting enough sleep – 7 – 10 hours to support your mental health, hormonal balance and muscle repair.
  • Eating a balanced, varied diet – Everything you eat either helps the body heal or it does the opposite, you work hard on your training so why let the body down with overly processed foods? Clean, balanced meals are the best way to remain healthy and boost perfromance.

If you are doing that right, then what products out there can help your body adapt, repair and go again sooner? Here’s some of the things I do and the products I use.

Veloskin Soothing Gel

“The unique formula contained in VeloSkin’s soothing gel is great for self massaging your legs after a long ride or to soothe and cool soreness and skin damage caused by saddle friction.”

Like the rest of the Veloskin range, this soothing gel smells amazing and comes packaged in the signature orange box and classic metal tin.

The gel itself is made from a range of natural ingredients (no extras and no nasties) that promote the healing process and offer anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

When used the gel absorbs quickly in to the skin. Predominantly it’s designed to be massaged in to either your under carriage or your legs, on the former care is required as to where you apply as it contains menthol. So, if you suffer from saddles sores and friction and general soreness after those long rides, this is great to aid a faster recovery. When applied it produces a pleasant, cooling sensation on the skin that last for around 15-20 minutes. Once applied it dry’s quick, meaning you can get dressed and on with the rest of your day without any nasty stickiness in your clothes.

How do I use it? Good kit and the use of the Veloskin chamois cream means I don’t suffer greatly with saddle sores thankfully, however I’ve found the endurance sessions on the turbo trainer do create a bit more friction and soreness in the delicate areas. The tingling doesn’t last, which I like, but it definitely helps getting you back on the bike to go again. I’ve done a lot of indoor challenges this year and after the 10hr Knighthood Challenge and vRevolve24, this was a must!

Pulseroll vibrating foam roller

The Pulseroll vibrating foam rollers incorporate the latest technology and are highly useful products that can aid your recovery and therefore improve your running performance overall.”

I think a lot of people like me have a love hate relationship with foam rolling. The PulseRoll is different though because you’ve got the added benefit of the vibrations, which means you can find and stay on any ‘hot spots’ of pain or tightness much easier than with a foam roller.

I’ve been using the PulseRoll for a couple of years now rolling as a warm up and cold down after intense sessions or just on my rest days as another way to stretch, reduce some soreness and ultimately get some flexibility back so I can keep training. Moving from a non-vibrating roller to Pulseroll has made this a much more pleasurable experience, its less painful and I find the muscles respond better as a result.

Last year I reviewed the PulseRoll roller, so you can find out more here.

The Pulseroll is can appear a bit gimmicky but the vibrations actually make this a beneficial and pleasant recovery experience

Protein

Protein, made up of amino acids, is so important to muscle repair and recovery…but it can be done wrong!

Most of the protein I need comes from my diet (the food I eat, not in the dieting sense), and I aim to spread that evenly across the day as part of main meals and healthy snacks. I’ve learnt, as part of my training and coaching from Spokes, to make sure my diet is matched to my workouts – so I adjust my protein, fat and carbohydrate intake based on the length and intensity of my sessions.

Because of my IBS I try really hard to avoid Dairy and Gluten, so I buy a few different plant based sources of protein. Protein powders are an easy way to get a fast hit, post workout and my go to is the Plant Based powder from Reflex mixed with Oat Milk. It’s got 21g of protein – which based on my weight is about the  amount to have in one sitting. If you want to workout how much protein you should consume the guide is 0.25g x your weight in KG, you should aim to hit this gram figure 3 to 6 times per day based on your training. An important follow up to this is that more protein does not mean bigger or faster muscle growth!.

How I use it? Depending on what training I’ve done will depend on whether I add Reflex’s Plant Based Protein to my recovery or not. For those all out sessions on the bike I’ll tend to just go simple by adding the powder to oat milk. If I’ve got more time or I’m setting myself up for a long or hard day I’ll add it to porridge or as a fuller smoothie, to maximise my carb, fat and protein intake.

CBD Infusion muscle rub

“Our combination of natural ingredients creates a balm that is highly absorbent. Ideal for easing sore muscles and problem areas.”

CBD is a growing market and more and more athletes are using it to support their training. I was sceptical about it and whether it would actually have any benefit for me. I know, talking to others, the initial reaction to CBD products is one of either “it’s cannabis” or “will it get me high?”, so I was keen to find out more and do my own research before using this one.

While more long term studies are needed to verify claims made by some brands, CBD products are said to provide a huge range of benefits include pain relief related to muscle, joints, and nerves, stress relief, anti-inflammation, and as a sleep aid. So, the more research I did, the more I came to the conclusion of ‘why not!’.

On a legality note, CBD has not always been legal in the UK. Recent laws have permitted it to be sold so long as THC, the psychoactive component of hemp that gives marijuana users a “high,” has been filtered out to 0.2% or less.

I’m a convert to CBD and the benefits of recovery!

The type of product chosen will depend on the benefit you want from it. I’ve been using the muscle rub which is massaged into your skin, giving you the concentrated effect on a specific part of the body. Using this on a specific injury, sore spot or tight muscles is where you’ll feel the biggest benefit. This rub from Infusion CBD is packed full of natural ingredients (completely THC free) and is organic and vegan friendly, so great from a sustainability perspective. It’s got a pleasant floral, lavender smell and the natural oils allow the be applied easily and absorb quickly in to the skin.

How I use it? Like any other muscle rub, this is simply massaged in to the clean skin. I’ve found this to be most effective on my thighs, knees and calves after long or hard sessions, when I can feel the fatigue and knots in my muscles. It’s definitely made a difference to reducing the DOMS the day after and I’m definitely a convert to CBD and will be keeping this part of my regular recovery routine.

Find out more at https://infusioncbd.co.uk/

Mission Tea

“Tea to fuel your extraordinary – Beat the crash, recover naturally + optimise your sleep.”

What could be more British than relaxing with a good cuppa?! Mission are on, well a mission, to show just how beneficial tea can be for athletes. I got in to their tea’s after taking a well price offer on the sample pack, I was seeing more and more of their products and was intrigued. I’ll admit they aren’t all for me flavour-wise, but over the past year I’ve become a regular drinker of the Rooibos Recovery Tea – designed to soothe muscles, decrease stress and promote calmness. Ashwagandha is an ancient herb which is said to have benefits in boosting brain function, focus, energy, mood, anxiety and warding off depression. So a huge win in a little bag in my mind.

Sleep has been notoriously difficult for me to find over the years – I’ve got an over active brain and mild insomnia (which thankfully is now pretty rare). It’s a huge contributor to poor performance and low motivation for me, so taking the time to get a good sleep routine during big training blocks does pay off. The big lavender kick from the Sleep Tea is definitely one for bed time, as its long been used to calm the mind and reduce those stress hormones.

How do I use it? The recovery tea I drink straight up post workout, it’s just a nice, refreshing cup of tea that has a delicate fruitiness to it. I don’t find it needs milk, but it will happily take a splash if that’s how you take it. Depending on how I feel, I may have a Sleep Chai Latte before bed – using my Aldi milk heater / frother – I’ll chuck a sachet of the sleep tea in with the milk and let it do its thing. Once frothed and warm, I’ll pour in to a mug and drink while reading in bed. When I commit to the sleep tea, I’ve found my quality of sleep is much improved and I wake far less in the night…I just need to learn to stick to the routine.

I hope you enjoyed this blog – please do share your recovery tips with me. What products do you love and what recovery routines do you have to keep your training on track?

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