No Pain No Gaines

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Striking the Balance Between Training and Recovery

The old adage of no pain no gain is quite literal when it comes to strength training. The feeling of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), the soreness and stiffness that usually follows 24 hours after an intense workout, is familiar to anyone who has ever trained.  It is often used by athletes as a measure of the effectiveness of the prior workout.  It is important to strike a balance between high intensity training and recovery.

Overtraining also known as over-reaching can slow result in negative physiologic and chemical changes, thus predisposing one to injury.  Undertraining can limit your potential gains.  So how does one push your body to the limit without going to far.  Because the stress/recovery balance is different for every athlete, just like the practice of medicine, that’s where the art and the science collide.  Daily Gaines emphasizes active recovery, meaning putting equal emphasis on training and recovery.  In order to train like the pros, you must recover like the pros.

Overtraining vs Under-recovery

        Some say there is no such thing as “overtraining” only under-recovery. But if you’ve ever seen a full blown case of rhabdomyolysis with subsequent acute renal insufficiency due to muscle damage sustained during a long intense workout…you would know that’s not true (see recent case at The University of Oregon football team).  In my mind that is a unique and rare scenario due to acute and prolonged overexertion and heat exhaustion.  It is a true emergency.

What is more likely is chronic overtraining usually due to insufficient time spent in recovery.  Excessive overload plus Inadequate recovery is the precursor for overtraining syndrome.  While overtraining may sound innocuous or “something that affects the weak”, it is not. According to the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, the symptoms of may include a depressed mood, general apathy, decreased self-esteem, emotional instability, impaired performance, restlessness, irritability, disturbed sleep, weight loss, loss of appetite, increased resting heart rate, increased vulnerability to injuries, hormonal changes, a lack of supercompensation (positive/anabolic effects of the stimulus), and even a compromised immune system and increased susceptibility to infection.

no pain no gain

So here are a few tips to enhance and accelerate your recovery, so that you can continue making your Daily Gaines.  (G-A-I-N-E-S)

  Get more sleep:  Most recovery occurs during sleep.  That is when anabolic hormone levels are highest and cellular repair occurs.  To combat the effects of overtraining even the normal 7-8 hours may not be enough.  Studies show that a nap within 2 hours of the workout (even 20 min) can improve recovery. 
– Adequate Hydration:  Dehydration can cause increased muscle damage during workouts and delay recovery.  Some rules of thumb are 6-8 glasses of water per day.  But perhaps the best way is to judge your hydration by the color of your urine.  The darker the color the more you water you need to drink.
– Inflammation is the enemy.  So decreasing inflammation via cryotherapy (ice, cold bath) and NSAIDS (with your doctor’s permission) can help accelerate recovery
  Nutrition:  There is evidence that protein…consumed prior to bedtime, first thing in the morning, immediately after a workout, and even during a workout can all accelerate recovery.  Whether protein shakes or other lean sources, increase protein consumption.  (1-1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight).  Carbs are important to replenish your muscle glycogen stores, preferably consumed within 1 hour of the workout.  50g of carbs and 30g  of protein.
– Exercise:  The concept of a recovery workout may seem counter intuitive, however moving your joints and doing low intensity compound movements with bodyweight can help with soreness and recovery.
– Stress: Overtraining is both mental and physical.  Stress increases cortisol (a stress hormone).  Increasing sleep, eliminating outside sources of stress, massage therapy, myofascial release with foam roller therapy, and meditation are among a few techniques to decrease your stress.

Director of Sports Medicine for Athletic Gaines and Contributor to Daily Gaines.