I ran my first marathon in the fall of 2018. It was the longest distance I have ever run. The day after I felt pretty good, but there was a moment during work on Monday where I thought I could feel the lactic acid sitting on my muscles like some kind of sludge. It passed, but it got me thinking about the process of recovery. What exactly is Recovery and why do I feel like I need to “recover” at the end of each day? What are the key factors to moving through recovery with ease? What can we do in advance to reduce recovery time? How does acupuncture and massage help in recovery?
Factors of Recovery
The term recovery is the physiological response of the body to return to its natural state after significant stress. That stress can be many things: sports related, loss of loved one, drug or alcohol addiction, or just a crazy busy day. Any trauma to the body can result in a period of recovery. Some factors that define it can include: heart rate returning to resting state, lactic acid debt being paid, muscle damage being repaired, digestion returning to normal patterns, and/or general “life schedule” returning (i.e. sleep). Depending on the trauma (recovery from children takes a lifetime), this could be a year long process or it could be a matter of a day or two.
Moving Through with Ease and Reducing Recovery Time
If you know that an extreme stressor is coming your way being prepared can make a difference on your recovery time after it is over. Some simple ways to be prepared and to reduce recovery once you are in it:
- Hydration – drinking enough fluids reduces internal stress, making the external stress more manageable. Keep in mind that hydration does not mean just tons of water. It’s about electrolyte balance. It is possible to drink too much water, which will flush the system of necessary nutrients. Be sure you are eating plenty of veggies and fruits. This is a great way to keep hydrated and get your nutrients.
- Sleep – I know it’s inconvenient when there is so much going on to have to sleep, but more and more studies show the importance of sleep in stress management over the course of one’s life. In addition sleep plays a major role in what kind of ailments you will face as you age. Our bodies do not heal in the waking state. We are in fight or flight mode. It is only with sleep and deep meditation that we allow our bodies time to heal, especially during a period of recovery. Make it a priority.
- Acupuncture and Massage – in addition to the above, having a professional take a look at your body and how it is functioning on a regular (4-6 week or even once a quarter) basis is a great way to reduce recovery time. If the structures are aligned and the tissue pliable, it is more forgiving of induced stress. And during recovery, both Acupuncture and Massage can help bring the heart rate down, reduce blood pressure, induce a resting/healing state, flush excess lactic acid out of the muscle tissue, and instigate reparation of damaged tissue.
So whether you know or not if a stressor is coming taking care of your body in a very basic sense can have a profound effect on how you move through recovery. If this isn’t a good enough reason to care for your body, stay tuned. I have a laundry list of other reasons I can give you in future blogs. My goal is to become the nagging voice in your head telling you to do it….