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  • Writer's pictureMatthew W. Mosebar

Discussion- Recovery

If we were to neglect the importance of rest and not take the time to practice our recovery techniques, we will most certainly be overtraining and suffer the many side effects associated with an overworked biological system. Think muscle aches, joint pain, inflammation, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, fatigue, decrease in cognitive function, emotional swings, headaches, hormonal imbalances, and weight gain. Symptoms that can sideline us from our workouts and significantly decrease our quality of life.



Rest and recovery are critical components of any successful training program. They are also the least planned and underutilized ways to enhance physical and mental performance. I always preach- “we don’t realize strength gains in the gym, but instead we develop strength when we spend time recovering from our exercise.” You may not be aware there is a difference between rest and recovery or how to properly implement them both. If you train for ten hours per week, you have 158 non-training hours or 95% of your time left for rest and recovery. Where is all of this “extra” time going and why might you be walking into your workout dragging?

Most easily defined as a combination of sleep and time spent not training, rest is the easiest to understand and implement. How you sleep and spend this time is very critical.

Recovery, however, refers to techniques and actions taken to maximize your body’s repair. These include hydration, nutrition, meditation, self-myofascial release, cold therapy and stress management. Recovery is multifaceted and encompasses more than just muscle repair. Recovery involves chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair, mental state, and more.

We have different systems that need to recover. These include hormonal, neurological, and structural. Our structural system includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Muscles recover the quickest because they receive direct blood flow. Tendons, ligaments, and bones receive indirect blood flow and therefore can take longer to recover and be more susceptible to overtraining stress.

If we were to neglect the importance of rest and not take the time to practice our recovery techniques, we will most certainly be overtraining and suffer the many side effects associated with an overworked biological system. Think muscle aches, joint pain, inflammation, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, fatigue, decrease in cognitive function, emotional swings, headaches, hormonal imbalances, and weight gain. Symptoms that can sideline us from our workouts and significantly decrease our quality of life.

For most, the goal should not be set for perfection or include precise levels of each factor - leave that for professional athletes to strive after. Our goal is to prioritize life and maximize performance without personal sacrifice. We need to learn how to recognize signs of an overworked biological system and have the tools to bring ourselves back to optimal performance as we go about living our lives. It is amazing what a big drink of water, cold shower, and a quick bout of meditation will do for our mood and overall well-being.

Below we will break down the subcomponents of rest and recovery to provide you with better insight on how to improve performance and overall quality of life. A healthy and happy athlete/weekend warrior not only performs better, but has the ability to give time and energy to their loved ones.


Sleep is the king of recovery. Adequate levels of sleep help to improve mental health, balance hormonal levels, and repair soft tissue (skeletal muscles and connective tissue). Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Youth athletes who are in a constant state of development may require even more. As our brain waves slow and the “main computer” enters into sleep mode, our repairing mechanisms go into overdrive. Glycogen stores are replenished, cellular repair is sped up, the endocrine system is reset (our hormone factory), and the previous day’s activities are logged into our memory (consider how important this is with athletes and skill development). Below are some important notes when trying to maximize our quality of sleep.

-Avoid watching television or staring at your phone in bed. Learn to associate your bed with sleep and you will fall asleep quicker and easier.

-Avoid looking at monitors before bed (TV, phone, computer, etc.). The light form these devices mimics daylight and can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Look into blue light filtering apps if you must use a device before bed to avoid insomnia.

-The hours slept before midnight have proven to be more valuable than the hours spent sleeping after midnight. We spend more time in a deep sleep (stage 3 sleep or delta sleep) before midnight when compared to after midnight. This deep sleep stage is our most restorative and should not be underestimated. Besides nothing good happens after 9pm anyway!

-Sleep in the most natural setting possible with minimal to no artificial lights or background noise.

-Fall asleep with the sun, and wake up with the sun (probably more realistic during the summer months). Our circadian rhythm is closely tied to the sunrise and sunset. Maybe this is why we are so good at hibernating during the cold winter months.

-Fresh air and cooler temperatures help to improve the quality of sleep. Sleeping in a cold room has also been proven to increase stores of brown fat (brown fat is a very good thing). We will save the discussion regarding brown fat for another day.


Drinking adequate amounts of water is critical to health, energy, recovery, and performance. Athletes tend to be very attentive to hydration levels close to and during competitions, but keeping that awareness during training and recovery can make just as large of impact. Adults and much of our youth are perpetually dehydrated. Water helps all of our functions within our system. To name a few, adequate hydration will increase nutrient uptake, lower levels of stress on the heart, improve muscle function, improve skin tone, and increase cognitive function. Below are some important notes to consider when hydrating.

-How much water should we consume daily? One half ounce to a full ounce of water should be consumed daily for every pound of body weight. So, a 150lb individual should consume 75 – 150 ounces of water per day.

-Try to have a large percent of your water intake happen during the morning and early afternoon hours. Trying to play catch-up during dinner time will only interrupt your sleep with bathroom breaks.

-If you are an endurance athlete or weekend warrior that sweats a lot, try replenishing the minerals lost through sweat to aid in overall hydration. Celtic Sea Salt is a favorite of mine, helping with hydration with its’ excellent mineral profile.

-Be cautious of sports drinks and understand what ingredients are included. Often times a glass of crystal clean water is going to be a better choice.


Everything you eat has the ability to help heal your body, or to poison it. This may sound strong, but alcohol and processed foods can contain toxins and are void of much needed nutrients. We are allotted only so many calories a day and we want to consume the calories that provide the widest array of nutrients possible. An in depth discussion regarding food will be saved for our nutrition seminar where we will dive into the subject matter in great detail. However, below are a few points to remember when making your food choices.

-Stay away from the box. Many of our boxed food choices are highly processed and void of nutrients. Try to eat foods that are recognizable in their natural state.

-Shop the outside aisles of the grocery store. Typically the outside aisles are where the fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, legumes, and dairy are located.

-Read the nutritional facts. If you can’t recognize, or let alone pronounce an ingredient, you might be better off leaving that product where you found it.

-Count the sugar, not the calories. American Heart Association recommends 16 – 36g of sugar per day. Many of our “health” bars contain this much sugar in one serving!

-Plan ahead with meal prepping. Healthy food is rarely available to us when we are out and about. Planning ahead and bringing meals with you will ensure better food choices when away from home.


More now than ever our minds are overwhelmed by the constant stimulus in our lives. This has led to overstimulation and a need for quiet time. There are 4 types of brain waves associated with our state of being. Beta brain waves are when we are in deep thought and often are associated with stressful situations (running from a tiger, working out with Matt, or during a high pressure sales meeting). Alpha brain waves are associated with relaxation while awake (walking through a peaceful forest, watching the sunset, or closing your eyes for a moment in your recliner). Theta brain waves are associated with light sleep and meditation. And finally, Delta brain waves are present during deep sleep and are our most restorative.

With the constant stimulus and stress in our modern lives, we are spending too much time in beta brain wave activity. While in this heighten state, our systems ability to recover is negligible. This is where meditation becomes an important tool in our everyday practice. Meditation has the ability to slow the brain waves and force our system into recovery mode. Pretty cool, eh! Below are some types of meditation that you can start practicing today.

-Meditation in a natural environment. Just the sounds and sights of nature have been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, improve recovery, and slow our minds. Take a walk through nature, or find a natural setting to sit and clear the body and mind of our modern lifestyles.

-Self guided or guided meditation. This type of meditation usually consists of finding a comfortable position in a quiet setting, closing the eyes, and removing any active thoughts from your conscious brain. Admittedly, not the easiest of tasks and will require much practice before one can master this technique. Try attending a meditation class or downloading a meditation app that can guide you through the process.

-Breath work or forced meditation. I find this to be very effective for athletes and people new to the practice. We can enter into a meditative state with the use of our breath. Often times, concentrating on our inhale and exhale will distract our brain from the days happenings and create a rhythm on which our mind can relax. Check out the Wim Hof Breath of Fire. One of my favorite methods when looking for a reset.


Skeletal muscle and connective tissue will often need a little assistance when attempting to return to a healthy normal state. The natural shortening and lengthening of the skeletal muscle can be compromised when the bonds between the muscle fibers become stuck and the connective tissue inhibits movement of the muscle. This can happen when we are deconditioned, sit in one position for too long, or when we stress our system with exercise. An easy solution- massage ball and foam roller work! The release of the tissue will allow for a larger percent of muscle recruitment, decrease in chronic pain and tension, a quicker return to exercise, and increased mobility at the joint. Below are some tips when rolling out those sore muscles.

-Believe it or not, YouTube is a great resource when learning how to perform self-myofascial release. Simply type in a phrase like “rolling the thoracic spine” and numerous how-to videos will pop-up in the search results.

-Use these release techniques to prepare for exercise and after to help speed recovery.

-Drink plenty of water before and after rolling to flush the system of any byproducts that were released into the blood stream during the session.

-Typically the first few release sessions are painful. However, with some repetition the rolling sessions will become enjoyable as the quality of tissue increases.


Cold therapy has been used for thousands of years as a health remedy. Exposure to cold helps increase metabolism, reduce inflammation, reset endocrine system, encourage blood flow and delivery of nutrients, improve skin elasticity, increase deposits of brown fat, and forces our brain waves to slow post session (forces us into relaxation and recovery mode). For a multitude of reasons, cold therapy is a go-to recovery technique for athletes and weekend warriors alike. Below are a few ways we can dive into the cold abyss.

-Ice baths are a cheap and very effective way to help the entire body benefit from cold therapy. Try covering your feet with neoprene booties to help keep those toes from freezing off!

-Ice bags for spot treatments are a great way to speed the healing of an injured area. Try filling up a paper cup half way and placing it in the freezer. When you are ready to apply the ice, rip the bottom of the cup off and use the top as a handle as you move the ice around the desired area.

-Cryotherapy saunas are new on the scene and are fun to try. Cryo chambers convert liquid nitrogen into a super cooled gas, creating an environment that can dip below -250 degrees. They are usually much more comfortable when compared to an ice bath and only last 3 - 4 minutes. With that, the sessions can be very pricey and I question how effective the heat exchange is when dealing with a gas, compared to a liquid.

Rest and recovery are vital for our success with any training regime. The compounding effects of exercise can degrade our system and breakdown our body. The adaptation to these stressors happen during rest and can be sped up with the aforementioned recovery techniques. With that said, your workout is only half of the equation. Be sure you are practicing the other half to ensure a result you can be proud of!

In Health,

Matthew W. Mosebar


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