Muscle Sport Magazine

Active Recovery (Part 3 of 4)

Self-Myofascial Release (SMR). SMR is the technical term for self-massage to help reduce muscle tightness and release trigger points. When applying pressure to specific muscles, you can release tightness and stiffness, which will aid in recovery so your body can return to normal elasticity. SMR tools include foam rolling, sticks, balls, Theracane or Body Back Buddy, and your own hands. When pressure is applied to tight areas or trigger points, you may often feel pain start at a given point and radiate to other areas of the body. SMR techniques can be painful at first, so ease into this method of self-massage. Start with tools that are less dense as firmness will increase the amount of applied pressure. As your muscle display less tension over time, you can increase the amount of pressure applied, the length of time you apply pressure, and the density of your SMR tools. You can perform 10 minutes of SMR prior to or after exercise to help you recover faster.

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Massage therapy. A recent study at the University of Illinois at Chicago showed that massage increased blood flow and reduced muscle soreness after exercise. Those who exercised to muscle soreness and received massage to the affected area after exercise experienced less soreness 90 minutes post massage and improved blood flow for up to 72 hours[v]. Another study found that post-exercise massage could also reduce the production of inflammation-inducing cytokines and increase stimulation of mitochondria, the powerhouses inside cells that convert glucose to energy and aid in cell function and repair[vi]. No need to break the bank: Getting a massage once or twice a month can greatly improve workout recovery time.

Stay active. Though muscles need to rest to recover, being completely inactive the day after exercise may prolong soreness. Active recovery focuses on low intensity activities that keeps your blood pumping and helps reduce muscle fatigue[vii]. This could simply mean a walk around the block, a leisurely bike ride, or some time spent in the garden. Take one day a week for total rest and recovery, and stay active during your other days off from exercise.




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