Muscle recovery is a topic that I’m asked about on a daily basis by clients with questions like “what is it and why is it so important?” Or “What’s the best way to recover after a hard workout?”
And since I specialize in mobility training, they also want to know if we can use it as a tool to accelerate muscle recovery.
So let’s dive in to what muscle recovery is and how you can use mobility training as your secret weapon to recover faster.
WHAT IS MUSCLE RECOVERY?
Contrary to what most of us think, muscle recovery isn’t just about when you wake up and your body feels sore from the previous day’s workout.
It has to do with balance. Your body always strives to be in balance and relatively stable.
When we encounter stress, like from hitting it hard at the gym or a big project at work, your body steps up to tackle this stress and bring things back to neutral. That’s where recovery comes in. It’s your body’s process for adapting and repairing itself after handling stress, whether it be physical, emotional, or psychological.
WHY IS MUSCLE RECOVERY IMPORTANT?
If you put a ton of stress on your body, and it doesn’t get enough time to recover, eventually, you’ll compromise that balance and your immune system and performance will take a hit with the chance of injuries and illness increasing. Ever heard of overtraining? Yeah, that’s a product of inadequate recovery.
A good rule of thumb to remember is that you can only train as hard as you recover.
Imagine your body is a bank account. Yeah…I said bank account. I know it sounds strange but stick with me here.
When you put stress on your body, it’s like taking money out of the bank account. When you spend time on recovery, it’s like making a deposit. If you’re account reads zero because you haven’t been making those recovery deposits, your body starts breaking down, your workouts start to suffer, your overall mood and well being are now compromised.
HOW LONG DOES MUSCLE RECOVERY TAKE?
The time it takes for muscles to recover is dictated by the amount of stress placed upon them. For instance, if you just finished running a marathon today, you’ll probably need at least 3-4 days of proper recovery if not more. If you just went to the gym and did a quick arm workout, the amount of recovery will be minimal. It’s all dose dependent.
Keep in mind, stress on the body is cumulative. If we remember the bank account analogy from earlier, every small workout, argument with family members, and any other type of stress will slowly bleed that bank account dry, unless you start to recover properly.
HOW TO MAXIMIZE MUSCLE RECOVERY
There are many factors when it comes to maximizing muscle recovery, but the "Big 3” are: sleep, nutrition and low intensity cardiovascular training. Make sure you have these three dialed in. They’ll give you the biggest deposit in your bank account.
If you’ve been working on the "Big 3” and are ready to take your recovery to the next level, mobility training is going to be your secret weapon.
WHY MOBILITY TRAINING SPEEDS UP MUSCLE RECOVERY
Mobility training is excellent for bringing the body back into balance, maximizing the results of the previous training session, and preparing your body for the next workout.
If you think about what mobility training is, we’re essentially increasing blood flow to the joints, which aids in the inflammatory response, ie. speeds up the recovery process.
Our bodies are just one big giant fluid system. When tissues have been broken down from stressors, the inflammatory response of the body is activated. When this happens, an army of cells are sent to the area of tissue breakdown to help it repair and stimulate growth. This is a good thing!
When we use mobility exercises to increase blood flow to this area, our tissues will heal faster. How awesome is that?
This is why the latest research states that you should not ice or take any kind of anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen post-workout as they inhibit this magical process.
If we keep our blood flowing on all cylinders after our workouts, this will allow us to get our tissue to recover faster, so we can get back to the gym sooner and more refreshed.
HOW TO USE MOBILITY TRAINING FOR MUSCLE RECOVERY:
The great thing about mobility training is that you can do it anytime of day and it will still aid in muscle recovery. So you could do it when you get up in the morning, you can do it during a workout, you can do it after a workout, right before bed…you get the idea.
The important thing is that you target the area of the body that you stressed.
For example, if you hit it hard with your deadlifts or squats, you’ll want to do some mobility exercises that target the hips and spine.
Or if you swim, golf or play tennis, you can do mobility exercises to target your shoulders.
The key is to just get movement in and get that blood flowing. It doesn’t have to be complicated or take a bunch of time. Just make those deposits into your bank account because you can only train as hard as you recover.
READY TO START?
To help you get a jumpstart your muscle recovery, I’ve put together 3 of my must-have mobility moves for free, that target the areas of the body I see that need the most love. They’re completely free so check them out and let me know how you did. Once you try them, you’ll see why they’re my all-time favorite.
ABOUT COACH MATT PIPPIN
Matt is a Strength and Mobility Coach with over 15 years experience in his field and has coached over a thousand professional, collegiate and everyday athletes with the goal to help them move, feel and perform at their highest level. He's incredibly passionate about bringing simple and effective online mobility training programs to everyone who wants to take control of their self care and make lasting change. CLICK HERE to learn more.
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Level 3: Fascial Stretch Specialist
Level 1: Institute of Motion Health Coach
Certified FRC Mobility Specialist (FRCms)
Level 1 Kinstretch Instructor
Weck Method Qualified