So what's your recovery like? How long on average does it take for the soreness to go away? Does it go away at all?
You may have heard certain people at the gym let you in on a certain secret. It doesn't get easier, just faster and heavier. Wiser words have not been spoken about the nature of CrossFit. We are always looking for ways to break our body's homeostasis and promote continued adaptation and improvement. This is why you may notice that although you get stronger, faster, fitter, you still experience soreness.
That level of soreness will vary greatly depending on many factors. Some can be controlled, others not as much. What we want to focus on is how we can increase the speed of our recovery. CrossFit shouldn't just make us faster, fitter, and stronger. It should make us smarter too.
So let's get smart about recovery shall we?
My personal recovery strategy covers 5 areas that I think everyone should be thinking about if they want to get the most out of CrossFit while also retaining the ability to traverse stairs.
1. Diet - You knew I would put this first. How can you expect your body to repair itself without the important nutrients required? We have to be smart about what we put in our body. The body works in order of importance. Remember, your body isn't just concerned about repairing your muscle tissue, it has other things to worry about too. The more we can reduce ill effects due to poor diet, the more the body can focus on repairing all that muscle. In addition, the higher the quality of nutrients we provide, the better the tools we have to work with. Eat a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods, and you will see amazing results. We will leave specifics of pre and post workout nutrition for another post.
2. Sleep - This is stupid simple and everyone should inherently know the importance of sleep. Think of your Mom telling you to get a good nights rest before that big test. Sleep is our system's best opportunity to repair. Unfortunately not all 8 hours of sleep are created equal. The most restful sleep will come from getting in bed before midnight.
3. Ice - This is a miracle worker. If anything aches, ice it. 5 minutes or until the area goes numb. A lot of the coaches fill up foam cups with water and freeze them. Peel away at the cup and you have a great ice surface to massage into muscles, ligaments, and joints. If you want to really give your body a recovery boost, fill up your tub with cold water, dump 30-60 pounds of ice and hop in for 5 minutes. If that is too much for you, try hydrotherapy. Alternate between very hot and very cold in 30 second to 1 minute increments 3-5 times, ending on cold. This little trick helps dilate blood vessels and speed muscle recovery.
4. Mobility - Go do a tough CrossFit workout and then sit in a movie theater for 2 hours, let me know how you feel afterwards. It is very important to remain mobile after very taxing workouts. Grab a lacrosse ball, foam roller, or work through a variety of stretches you've been exposed to at the gym. Your body should be much more precious than your car, so take care of it. Work out those kinks on a regular basis. Desk jobs are the worst. Don't let yourself sit for too long, get up and move around. Stretch at work, even if your coworkers think you are crazy.
5. Stress - This is a tough one because it is less tangible. Not everyone is dialed in on their stresses and managing them. This by far takes the most work but the good news is focusing on the other four will directly impact this one. Try to be more cognizant of when you are feeling stressed out and why. Use that opportunity to find ways to calm yourself down. Take steps to reduce as much stress in your day as possible. Obviously there are stresses we won't be able to avoid, but identifying them is a great step in reducing the effect they have on you.
I guarantee that adopting the above will help you a ton in recovering faster and avoiding those weeks where you can barely move. Please post any questions you might have about recovery to the comments.