In today’s get-up-and-go society men who are working to improve their body and their health generally focus on one thing-optimization. Everyone understands that in order to get the end results you are looking for (think bigger muscles and lower blood pressure), they need to create a plan for physical activity and focus on your nutrition. However, one of the most important aspects of self-improvement that we tend to forget is physical and mental recovery. That’s right, in order to improve your body and make it the best it can be you need rest just as much as you need a good cardio workout. Rest and recovery are where real growth happens.
That being said, as men, it’s hard to take time to slow down and recover. Society tells us to keep going, push ourselves more and work harder regardless of how tired we are or how our bodies and minds feel. As a result, we wear our bodies down until they reach a breaking point. But, if we just gave half-as-much attention to recovery as we do going to the gym, our bodies would be better for it. We would end up with whole, healed bodies that feel and look great as well as a happier demeanor and life-long knowledge.
When we begin to focus on recovery, we have to be attentive to how we are planning our recovery methods. It is important to put as much time and effort into planning our recovery stack as we put into planning our workout. You might be surprised to learn that some of the best athletes in the world take their recovery stacks very seriously. In fact, many of them have designed specific, serious recovery programs to get more mileage out of their bodies.
Tom Brady is one athlete that has taken the world of recovery by storm. Whether you like him or not, it’s impossible to deny that his recovery methods and products are a big deal for serious athletes. Brady’s TB12 foam roller, pliability lotion, and other TB12 recovery products are designed to promote recovery in athletes’ bodies. He also has a line of recovery pajamas he has designed with Under Armour that radiate infrared rays back into your body while you are sleeping to help you recover faster. These two techniques along with plenty of rest and self-care keep Brady at the top of the “best athlete” list.
It is also said that LeBron James, the world’s number one basketball player, invests over 7-figures into his recovery each year. He takes time to rest no matter what function is on his calendar and puts the care of his body before anything else. Some of the most popular recovery methods he uses include cryo-chambers, ice therapy, electrolyte heavy drinks, massages, and electrostimulation. These methods, although they may seem extreme to you, will help James stay in the game (and making loads of money) for many years to come.
The great news is you don’t have to develop your own pajama line or spend $1.5 million to take care of your body via recovery. You simply have to invest your time and energy into being vigilant about your own personal process. In this guide, we will get into the nitty-gritty of recovery so you can begin taking care of your body the best way possible and getting the results you desire.
The Basics of Recovery
In order to begin implementing recovery into your personal care routine, you must first understand the basics of recovery. And, the first thing you should note is that there are three different categories into which recovery methods can be broken into; mind, body, and true rest.
Mind recovery methods focus on creating free space within your thinking and giving your mind time to shut down and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Those who practice methods of mind recovery claim a number of benefits such as better concentration, more focused intentions, and increased energy. Below are a few of the most popular mind recovery methods.
- Float Tanks
There is a chance that body recovery is the category of recovery you are most familiar with. Everyone knows that after a workout in order to keep your muscles feeling great you need to stretch. However, true body recovery is much more than a simple muscle stretch after your workout (although that is a great place to start). Body recovery includes many different types of therapies that can be specifically designed in order to fit your needs. Some popular methods include:
- Joint Care
- Stretch studios
Finally, the last category, true rest. True rest is the methods you use to take the time for your body and mind to fully recover. It is taking a break from everything and allowing yourself to recharge and refuel so you can return to whatever it is you do better than ever. Popular methods of true rest include:
- Sleep technologies
- Digital detox
If you keep up with the news it is likely you recognize a few of these methods. That’s because the world is beginning to take notice of the true benefits of recovery and has started investing heavily in them. In multiple large cities, many high-end recovery boutiques have opened their doors to people like you who are eager to invest in their bodies and minds. One example of these boutiques is FLOAT in Toronto. FLOAT is a boutique that specializes in flotation therapy as a recovery method. Many individuals who have visited FLOAT and experienced flotation therapy claim it improves their mental clarity, provides profound peace, and promotes complete relaxation.
The Science Behind Recovery
It is one thing to hear claims that a body improvement method works and believe in it, but it is another to truly understand the science behind those claims. Therefore, you will be happy to know that there is a true science behind recovery that proves it is beneficial to the overall health of your body and mind.
According to American Fitness Magazine, recovery is the process of restoring homeostasis to our bodies. Homeostasis, if you aren’t familiar, is the state in which our bodily systems such as pH balance, temperature, and other bodily processes are in balance. In other words, homeostasis is a state of true equilibrium. When you are working out, performing a physical feat, or pushing your body to the extreme, the equilibrium of your body becomes unbalanced. Your temperature rises and your muscles become tense. After your workout is complete, you must then work to bring each of these functions back to its natural level.
In an article published by the American Council for Exercise based upon research conducted by the ACE Scientific Advisory Panel, there are three energy pathways that must be in balance in order to achieve optimal performance in any exercise. These energy pathways include The Phosphagen System, Glycolysis, and Mitochondrial Respiration. Each of these energy pathways works to provide or regenerate ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) an important organic chemical that provides energy for many bodily processes. Different recovery methods focus on each of these individual pathways and work to restore ATP to the body so you can be at your best when you need it most.
Recovery, although the best methods vary for each individual, has proven beneficial in multiple studies. However, many of the studies note that it is important to focus on making recovery a continual practice if you truly want to see the benefits to your body and your performance.
In the world we live in, bigger is always better. For that reason, many of you are probably wondering how you can get the “most” out of your recovery and how you can make it better than the recovery methods of an average person. Although there is no shame to always wanting to improve, the first thing you need to understand about recovery is that it truly is a process. There is no one-size-fits-all recovery package and there is no magical overnight cure. However, if you are looking to get the most out of your recovery you should think of it in the context of your own life and what you are looking to gain.
Let’s start out with an example. Say you are a working father with four children who simply wants to keep his body in top shape and have enough energy to get you through the end of your busy day. If that is the case, it is not likely your recovery will be focused around resting your muscles so they can perform and grow each day. Instead, your recovery should be focused around resting your entire body and mind so your energy is optimized for the next day’s activities. If this is you, you might make sleep and true rest the center of your recovery stack.
Now, let’s say you are training for an endurance race. You have run these races before, but you want this to be your best race yet. You have optimized every aspect of your workout so you can make sure your muscles are getting maximum training. However, you know you need to rest in order to be at your best. In this case, your recovery stack might be centered around muscle recovery and methods such as cryotherapy or massage.
When you create your recovery stack it is important not to just shoot from the hip and choose any series of recovery methods. You must think about what you truly want to achieve from your workouts and your recovery (your long-term goals) and build your stack from there. When you follow this protocol you will truly be able to see the results you desire.
An In-Depth Look at Physical and Mental Recovery
Earlier we discussed three different categories of recovery and how they each play a role in getting the best results for your body and mind. Now, to help you choose which recovery therapies/methods are right for you we are going to take a look at each of them in depth.
Meditation is the practice of guiding and controlling your thoughts. Millions of people (men included) practice meditation each and every day in order to improve the functions of their minds. When practiced regularly, meditation causes people to think more clearly and become more focused. There is also evidence that meditation can assist in lowering blood pressure, speeding up metabolism, and improve your heart rate. Each of which can be very beneficial in a whole body recovery stack.
- Float Tanks
Flotation therapy, although not new, is a hot topic with many of the world’s best athletes. It works by dissolving ample amounts of Epsom salt into a tank of warm water. As a result, the user instantly floats and defies the laws of gravity. When used regularly flotation therapy can aid in pain management, blood flow, and muscle strengthening. It also completely blocks all the senses creating a pure sense of calm and total relaxation. Those who use flotation therapy boast of its many benefits for both the body and the mind.
Breathwork is perhaps the most simple and accessible method of mind recovery. Through controlled breathing techniques, those who use breathwork in their recovery stack are able to calm their bodies and limit their anxiety. There are many different styles of breathwork including yogi pranayama and holotropic breathwork you can use to achieve mental clarity. With breathwork, it is important to simply choose a method and start practicing regularly before you get too caught up on which method is the best for you.
- Joint Care
There are many different methods for joint care that work for different types of athletes. The best methods allow the joints to rest and recover completely in between workout sessions. Some of the most popular joint care methods include electrotherapy and ice. However, there are many joint supplements that have been proven to work as well. It is important to note that with joint care, recovery will not occur overnight although you may notice some small differences. Instead, you are more likely to notice changes in your joints after you have been incorporating joint care for a few weeks or even months.
- Stretch studios
Stretch studios have started to pop up all across the United States as a method of improving flexibility and posture in athletes. Many men who are not into the high-intensity workouts CrossFit style gyms enjoy stretch studios because they offer a way to become lean and mean without putting added stress on their bodies. Men who use stretch studios typically see an improvement in their flexibility within a few days and will notice a big difference in their core strength within a couple of weeks.
Cryotherapy is widely used as a treatment for pain recovery. Cryotherapy works by subjecting your body to near freezing temperatures in order to isolate and repair irritated muscles and nerves. Men who use cryotherapy sing praises of its fast-acting results and simplicity. Those who are interested in exploring cryotherapy can generally find a spa or recovery boutique in a city near them where they can access it.
Vitamins and supplements are a key component of any type of body recovery stack. Key vitamins that can be used for recovery include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and B Vitamins. Additionally, there are many different specially formulated supplements on the market that can help to improve the functions of your body and optimize recovery as well. If you plan on using supplements or vitamins to improve your recovery, it is important to note that they can sometimes take weeks to build up and begin taking effect in your body. That being said, the time it takes is well worth the recover results you will see.
- Sleep technologies
The most common sleep technologies you will be familiar with are wearable devices. Smart watches and other sleep wearables monitor the way you sleep and make suggestions for improvement based upon your current sleep patterns. However, if you are wanting to go to the extreme, you can always invest in implants that will aid in your sleep as well. Sleep technologies are very important for men who are looking to improve their energy levels and optimize both their mental and physical endurance.
- Digital detox
In this digital age, there certainly is such a thing as too much screen time. Blue lights from screens and devices cause our bodies to fatigues and our minds to work overtime. Making a point to have a digital detox each day (preferably before bed) is one of the best ways to improve your rest. Digital detoxes help to improve your circadian rhythm and allow you to get the best sleep possible. If you participate in a digital detox, you will be amazed at how quickly your body and mind sees the results of your improved rest.
Get Started with Meditation
When discussing recovery methods it is not unusual for men to get hung-up on meditation. For some reason, many men feel intimidated by the thought of meditation and doubt they will be able to do it. We’re here today to tell you that you are wrong. Meditation can be beneficial for men of every age and, as a matter of fact, there is much evidence of this fact.
Meditation has been proven to improve the functions of the brain by relieving stress and has even been proven to have an impact on those people with early signs of Alzheimer’s or Dementia as well as individuals suffering from PTSD. Furthermore, many notable studies include evidence that meditation has also proven to be beneficial in the treatment of substance abuse.
If you are looking for a way to kick-off your recovery, meditation is a recovery method that is highly recommended and easy to get started.
Products That Improve Recovery
It’s only natural to want to stock up on the best products whenever you are starting out on a new journey. And, if you are starting out on a recovery journey there are plenty of products you can use to aid you along the way. However, it is important to simply invest in the basics until you have figured out the recovery stack that works best for you. That way, you can invest your money later on therapies you know will be beneficial in bringing the results you desire.
The first product you can invest in for body recovery is a foam roller. Foam rollers come in many different sizes and styles, but all provide an affordable way to relieve your muscles from pain and promote healing and recovery. The great thing about foam rollers is you can carry them with you wherever you go and they are very easy to use at home-making them a great first recovery product buy!
Guided meditation is the perfect place to start on your mind recovery journey. And, the best part about it is you can likely do it for free! There are many different guided meditation channels on YouTube you can use and all you will need is a mat, a quiet room, and a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
A Wearable Sleep Monitor
Check out practically any fitness watch on the market and you will see that it offers a way to monitor your sleep. Wearing a fitness watch with a sleep monitoring capability at night is the perfect way to start improving your true rest recovery. Simply strap on the watch, fall asleep, and follow the recommendations given by your device. This simple and affordable step is key in getting the most out of your recovery.
Best Foods for Recovery
Changing your diet is a quick and easy method for improving your recovery. And, it is most likely a step you can take on your own. If you are doing the grocery shopping with recovery in mind, here are some of the best foods you can buy.
Nuts & Seeds
Pure, unsalted nuts and seeds are a great source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and work hard to fight inflammation in your body. Two key components to a great recovery.
Turmeric has been proven to combat muscle soreness and inflammation and can be especially helpful after a long, hard workout.
Spinach is packed with antioxidants that help fight diseases in your body and improve muscle recovery after strenuous exercise.
Salmon is also full of Omega-3 Fatty Acids that help reduce inflammation, but is also a great source of protein! Both of which are needed almost immediately after a workout!
Sweet potatoes are full of Vitamin C – an important vitamin for restoring muscles and reducing pain.
Worst Foods for Recovery
Of course, if there is a list of the best foods you can buy, that means there is also a list of the worst foods you can buy for recovery. Below are foods you should definitely stay away from when grocery shopping.
Energy bars promise you the world in terms of recovery-protein, vitamins, minerals, and added nutrients. But, what they don’t tell you is how man unhealthy fats and sugars are packed into each one. The additives found in protein bars are one thing that can really slow down your recovery.
Sugary Protein Shakes
It is true there are many protein shakes and supplements on the market that can aid your body in recovery, but that is not true for all of them. When purchasing a protein shake be sure to make note of the sugar content and any added, unnecessary ingredients before you buy.
While we all know that a cheeseburger isn’t the best meal after a workout, we fail to recognize that other, seemingly healthy fast foods or prepackaged meals are not a great choice either. These options are jam-packed with sodium which can greatly slow down the recovery process.
Sports drinks, like protein shakes, are never the best option when it comes to recovery. Packed with sugars and artificial colors and flavorings, you are much better off sticking with water if you want to really improve your body.
Although peanut butter seems innocent enough, it can be a hidden villain in the world of recovery. Peanut butter has a high amount of added sugar and sodium that can quickly slow down recovery and its high-fat content doesn’t help either.
Recovery Based on Age and Needs
As we mentioned before, basing your recovery stack on the needs of your body is the best way to get the results you desire. For that reason, there are specific recovery methods that are suggested at each age and for different professions.
Men in their 30s and 40s are likely still at a very active point in their lives. If you are in your 30s and 40s you might want to work on recovery methods that help to optimize your strength and endurance and the recovery of your muscles so they last longer. Some of these methods include cryotherapy and flotation therapy. Furthermore, at this point in your life, you may also be needing more sleep due to a growing family and responsibilities at work. For that reason, you might want to take note of recovery methods such as sleep optimization and digital detoxes.
Men in their 50s and 60s are beginning to experience an entirely new stage of life where their muscles may be sore and they do not have nearly as much energy as they used to. At this age, men might be interested in simply sustaining their energy and having the energy to keep their body in shape. Great recovery methods for men in their 50s and 60s include massage therapy and guided meditation. Both of these methods can help to improve body and mind functions, provide energy, and aid in pain relief.
By the time a man reaches the age of 70, it is likely he is focusing on recovery in order to keep moving without pain and having enough endurance to make it through the day. For a man in his 70s recovery methods such as vitamins and joint care are a great choice! These methods will help him maintain his level or physical activity and comfort for his day to day schedule.
In addition to choosing your method of recovery based upon your age, you will also want to choose it based on your profession. Athletes, white collared workers, and blue collared workers will all have different needs based on the daily demands of their bodies. Athletes will want to focus on muscle recovery and improved endurance while blue collared workers focus on muscle recovery and strength. White-collar workers, on the other hand, might want to focus on energy and muscle stretching to aid in relieving pain caused by sitting in a desk.
The most important thing to understand about recovery is everyone needs it. No matter if you are a professional athlete or a man sitting behind a desk your body needs to recover from its daily activities in order to be at its best. Although there is still a lot of research to be done regarding recovery, the growing understanding and popularity of it have made it much more accessible and understandable for everyone. If you are a man focusing on self-improvement, recovery is a component of your plan you do not want to leave out!
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. Information is provided for educational purposes. You should consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website.