Recovery, it’s a word tossed around for, and from athletes a bunch. There is millions and millions of dollars spent on “the best” recovery methods and devices, some of which are about as useful as a DVD rewinder. For me there’s a couple of easy steps that should probably come before any of those. Number 1 is to get some damn sleep, I won’t get too deep into that topic here, because I wrote about it not too long ago. Number 2 is to get some movement in, yes rest is important, but to get some sort of light, focused movement in is going to be 100 times better than just sitting around. Everything just continues to tighten up the more you bum around.
Those that have followed me for longer than a hot minute know I play club rugby for fun, yes I am a little twisted, we all are after all. Any way, we played a match the last Saturday in August. Naturally, when you smash your body into someone else, you come away pretty beat up and sore. The following Sunday and Monday I went through a little movement to loosen up and feel ready for the week.
Well what did I do?
Here it is;
This isn’t going to solve all issues and this is no longer the mind blowing solution for everything that it was once thought to be, but it’s still good. Most of us can’t afford a massage to help get out some of that stiffness, so this is the option we need to lean on, and it’s still pretty good. I did a little work with the foam roller and some with the Accumobility balls from our friends up at Accumobility. Enjoy some of my facial expressions here and apologies for the brevity of a few of the segments of video.
-Calf/Achilles complex: Just find the sweet spot between the two of them and attack some of those knots, this was especially uncomfortable for me because my calf has been tightening up a great deal during matches recently.
-Hip rotators: Keep the focus of your rolling towards the middle to outer part of your glute, your tailbone doesn’t need to be rolled out, trust me.
-T-spine: Focus the rolling here on the back of your rib cage, if you find a spot go a little slower over it. Move the arms around to get the scaps to move and open up other nooks and such.
-Quads/Hip Flexor/TFL: I typically do this with my leg bent to help push some of the muscle belly close to the surface so I can give it some extra TLC.
-Adductors: Pardon the crudeness, but this usually looks like a monkey humping a football. Fellas, don’t roll too far up, you’ll figure out why. I usually give the VMO, small muscle on the inside of your knee, a little special attention when doing this.
-Feet: Those of you that are flat footed, join the crew. I like using the accumobility balls because they stay in place and really allow me to focus on particular areas of discomfort.
-Forearms: You’re all going to make the joke so just make and it move on. A focus of rugby is binding on your teammate’s or opponent’s jersey, requires a ton of gripping with the hands. This provides a little relief from all that the following days.
-Pec minor: There aren’t too many people that I know that couldn’t use a little soft tissue on their pec minor. I find this more effective than rolling around on lacrosse ball.
Activation and Mobility
Now it’s time to gradually get moving. I do the following before I go through my light movements. I try to do these in some semblance of flow so I’m not constantly getting up and down. It’s not super important to do it in this order, it just makes it easier.
-Dead Bugs x5/side (Sick of these yet?)
-Floor Slides x10
-Hip Flexor Mobility x5/side
-1/2 Kneeling Adductor Mobility x10/side
-Quadruped T-Spine Mobility x5/side (Bench T-Spine Extension could work here too)
-Wall ankle mobility x10/side (rugby boots aren’t always the most comfortable things)
-World Greatest Stretch x3-5/side (cue snap, crackle and pop)
Light Movement (Workout)
I’ll do 2-3 sets of 4 movements to shake the rest of the tightness and discomfort loose. Below is an example of what I would do.
Light Goblet Squats x8-10
Easy Inverted Rows x10
1-leg RDLS, LIGHT x8-10/side
½ Kneeling 1-Arm Overhead Press x6-8/side (and guess what? Yeah, keep it light)
A routine like this after a really intense training session or some sort of competition will help you recover a bit faster, so you can get right back after it for the next thing on the docket.
That’s all for today kids, remember, some movement beats the crap out of sitting around on your backside, even after a tough competition. Go out there and get after it!
Hello again everyone and a happy Tuesday to you. As excited as I was to see the Premier League get back underway this past weekend (COME ON FULHAM!), it is still a sign of summer ending. I do love me some fall though, good beers, back into action with rugby both watching & playing, the old hand egg (football) & the fantasy variations of it as well get into swing.
For some, it means things crank up a bit at work, and that means loads of work being done sitting at a desk. With that usually comes some sort of tightness in the hip, or even lower back, area. You’ve all seen it or experienced it, that nagging hip that will just not go away. What do we all do? We go for the general hip flexor stretch (or something similar). Riddle me this, how many times has it actually gotten better? No, really think about it. I don’t mean that temporary “relief” that just keeps your situation the same, if not worse. I mean it stopped bugging you for an extended period of time, and if/when it came back it wasn’t nearly the nag it was before. Alright, now that we’ve all admitted we have a problem (first step right?), let’s look at how to address your hip discomfort properly.
The likelihood is that said hip isn’t tight, it’s actually unstable and the “tightness” is your body fighting like hell to keep everything in place. Rather than the same “stretch” here are 6 exercises that will actually relieve that tight hip;
There are about a million different variations on this baby, but here’s the most common one I use. I like my clients to focus on reaching their fingers and heels, as far away from each other as possible. Finally, exhale as you extend your leg and arm, it’ll be the exact opposite of what your inclination is to do, but it works, trust me. Shoot for 5-10 per side.
Yes, this is simple, but I like to keep it simple…well you know the rest. The focus here is to raise your hips and squeeze your glutes hard, like you’re trying to turn coal into a diamond back there. It’s not about getting your hips as high as possible, that’s just your low back doing extra work we don’t need it to. Also, refrain from pushing through your forefoot (toes), it’ll be more effective. 10-15 reps should make for good work here.
-Cook Hip Lift
Getting more into the Jedi mind tricks of the trade here. It’s just a single leg version of the bridge, with a twist. Take a lacrosse or tennis ball and place in at the crease of your hip on one side. Pull the "ball" side knee, towards you and hold the ball there just with your leg, nothing else. Use the opposite foot, on the ground to bridge up, squeeze the glute and hold for a solid 2 count. Lower the hips and repeat. I like to keep this at around 10 per side.
-90/90 Breathing w/ Hip Lift/Shift
A very popular warm-up exercise for most of my clients, along with the dead bug. When doing this, it’s important to keep pressure both on the wall and the roller while breathing. The biggest mistake people wind up making is they exhale very little. The more you exhale the more you can inhale, make sense? My favorite cue for inhale is to make your “belt” bigger. Not a flattering thought, but most get the point. 5 good breaths should do the job, but I'd limit it to 10 if you want to do more.
-The “Better” Hip Flexor Stretch
Yes, guilty as charged, I cheated a bit here. There is an actual possibility that your hip is tight, but the stretch you’re doing is flawed. Try to drive the foam roller into the floor with the palms of your hands and squeeze the glute of the knee that’s down aka the side being stretched. Careful to not go into lumbar extension, i.e. using your low back to extend your hips. Hold for 10 second bursts, 2-3 times, then switch sides.
Planks are great, but just hanging out on your low back for 2 minutes straight does your hips zero favors. Try this progression on a plank to see if it help stabilize your core (and hips). Get into a front plank position, squeeze your hips and try to pull your elbows along the floor to your toes. 10-15 seconds is all you need to make this one effective.
There you have it folks.
These aren’t 6 of the most knockout crazy exercises that will set the world alight, but they should do you better than just arbitrary stretching now and again. Hope everyone has a nice day, go out there and get after it.
Also, if you haven't yet checked it out, there is a free program sign-up on the home page. It's a free resource so what have you got to lose, right? Go ahead and check it out, yes now, go!
A happy Thursday to you all, hope everyone is making the most of these good summer days, especially those in 4 season territory. I'm not going to waste your precious time with too much here today, but it's an important topic that I wanted to scratch the surface on. Go ahead, take a big exhale and enjoy it.
There’s a lot that can be said about the relief just picking up a heavy object and putting it back down, can provide. I mean think about how angry, frustrated, anxious, depressed and just plain old upset you get in the course of a day…OK don’t think about it too long, you’ll hurt yourself that way. Now, think about how good it feels to go and hit your pillow, or a punching bag, to relieve some of those feelings (FEELINGS). Resistance training (lifting weights) isn’t a far cry away from throwing a right hook at a bag of cotton. You tend to have to get a little aggressive when it gets relatively heavy, right?
Let’s get some basics out of the way, there are many kinds of stress, but what I’m talking about here is the type that wears you down and damn near kills you. There are also things likes stressors, things that cause you to go out of balance (good or bad) and eustress, which is basically good stress. Just as it is with anything, an extreme amount of any type of stress can cause health issues. Also, bad news, absurd amounts of exercise does not equal absurd amounts of results, stress relief in this case, but you know that already.
Most of us know that exercise of all types releases endorphins, endorphins equals a happier person, generally. I mean there’s research out there from both Harvard and Duke that says weight lifting is good for your mental health in terms of anxiety and depression, surely they have a clue, no? There was also a study, referenced in Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers, where rats, put in different situations, were stressed (shocked). The rats stressed in isolation with nothing to do, developed ulcers. No stress doesn’t cause ulcers directly, but yes it is a root cause. They also stressed 4 or 5 other rats and gave them an outlet of some sort (other rats to socialize with, something to scratch and chew on, etc.). Those rats either developed ulcers at a lower rate or not at all. Simply put, you need a place to ditch all that stress. I advocate for weight lifting, but most exercise will do the trick though.
The major problem people have with stress and dealing with stressors, is that most of us wait a full week to find that outlet, i.e. blow off some steam. Additionally, some of these end of the week methods and activities aren’t conducive to good health in the long run either. Now, if you choose an activity that you hate a.k.a. you hate lifting weights, it’s not going to help you avoid that ulcer and won’t let you relieve any of that stress because you’re not going to want to do it. If such is the case, I’d choose a different activity. Make sure your training level matches the level you’re at as well. Example, if you’re a novice in the exercise realm, Gerard Butler’s 300 workout might need to go on the back burner. I still maintain resistance training is king, but I’m a fan of finding modalities that you enjoy and complement one another. Don't forget, your food consumption can play a huge factor as well, but that's for another day.
Coming back to the importance of exercise and mental health, pick up something heavy and tell me that you don’t start to feel accomplished, even just a little. Want a power up on this? Give yourself a goal to achieve, a challenge. Things like, performing a chin-up (or chin-ups), deadlifting double bodyweight, placing first in a powerlifting meet, or anything really. Working towards that (and hitting it) will give you an extra mega boost in accomplishment. That accomplishment turns into more endorphins and thus a happier human. Feelings like this give you that belief that you can take on any challenge that’s out there. With that you will have a higher self-esteem, which generally leads to better mental health. I wish I could sit here and tell you that weight lifting could solve all of the world’s problems, it can’t, but it can certainly help solve the problems in everyone’s world.
Hopefully post makes sense and makes you want to pick up something heavy, just a bit more, for your mental health. Even if you think you’re already physically in a good place, you have to take care of that brain too. I’ve also posted the link to the Harvard and Duke studies, if you want to read about the rat study, pick up Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers by Dr. Robert Sapolsky. Until next time, go out there and get after it.
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS