Here we go to Recovery Part 2!
In Part 1, we learned that recovery is VERY IMPORTANT and that different structures & systems recover at different rates.
Part 2 is all about practical strategies that we can use to help our clients recover.
There are some really simple strategies you can use to aid the recovery process. These techniques can help recover the body from a systemic standpoint and thus will aid general recovery. Most if not all of them have to do with trying to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic interactions of the autonomic nervous system. Some may surprise you! Some you can use asap and others may take some practice, planning or education.
1. Self Myofascial Release Techniques (SMRT). Ok, as a Trigger Point Performance Master Coach I am a little biased here, but these tools and the education behind them are world-class. You can then empower your clients to do some release work for themselves.
The benefits of SMRT are many. A reduction in tissue Trigger Points aids recovery. SMR also aids tissue mobility and tissue hydration (Leon Chaitow, 2014), both of which will help you move better. One thing to remember when using this technique, we never want to put people in pain or discomfort above a seven or eight out of 10. This will, simply put, induce the fight or flight response and will actually undo some of what you are trying to achieve.
2. Forest Bathing. Yep – I went all hippie on you there! A big dose of mother nature is fantastic for recovery. Some of the research behind this simple but amazing technique is jaw dropping. From this article: “time in a wild setting, studies indicate, unleashes a powerful cascade of hormonal and cellular responses. Salivary cortisol, for example, dropped on average 13.4% when subjects simply looked at a forest setting for 20 minutes. Pulse rate, blood pressure and sympathetic nerve activity decreased as well”. “ A longer three day trip in the forest with daily walks had carry over benefits for a month.” I love the comment in the article “any plans for the weekend”! I highly recommend you read the whole article and also an article on the Impact of Microclimate and Indoor Plants on Air Ion Concentration. This research article explains the benefits of indoor plants in your environment. So, if you work outdoors, you’ve got this covered. If not, does your facility have any plants and wood smells? No? Get some!
3. Breathing! Good ol’ O2 in and out (yes, I am aware that only around 20% of the air we breathe is actual O2, 79% is nitrogen and the rest – because 20% + 79% = 99% – is various trace elements of other gases). Most people do not breathe well. Most of your clients will breathe into their chests. What you want to encourage them to do is diaphragmatic (belly) breathing. Lie them down and let them relax. Teach them to breathe using their belly and in as little as two minutes you will be helping them to reduce their anxiety. In his book, Client Centered Training, Roy Sugarman describes various breathing patterns for different outcomes. He suggests a 6:4:10 breathing rate to help reduce anxiety. That’s six seconds in, a four-second pause and 10 seconds out.
4. Breathing is also a big component in my next recommendation, meditation. John Arden, in his book, Rewire your Brain, 2010, describes how meditation can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes a slower heart rate and slower breathing rate, whereas the fight or flight response is activated by the sympathetic nervous system. He also says some of these benefits can be achieved in as little as two to five minutes. There are lots of forms of meditation and are apps available to help get you in the ‘chill zone’. Try some yourself and then recommend some to your clients.
5. Last but super important, SLEEP! This is one of our most vital functions and most of us do not get enough of it. The health benefits of getting enough are enormous and the detriment of not doing so is disastrous! There’s got to be a reason so much of our life is dedicated to sleep and as we were developing as a species, we got abundant sleep. Our busy lives and artificial lights have played havoc with our ability to nod off, not to mention everyone’s bad habit of checking phones before bedtime! Turn the phone off a couple of hours before bed and interact with the people around you or read a book.
There you have it: tools that can help you and your clients to recover. Give them suggestions as to how they can do so (you now have at least five different ways) and empower them to release, go bush, breathe, meditate and sleep well. Don’t forget that nutrition and hydration are a big part of recovery (oooh…..a whole other blog). And just like the elite athletes do, vary the intensity of your sessions!
Catch you later – I’m off to stare at a tree for 20 minutes ;D