Sunday, February 15, 2009

Recovering at the Speed of Life

By Dr. Tim Maggs
July/August 2001
Washington Running Report

The million dollar question--"How can I recover more quickly from both injuries and training/racing?" Nature's time frame for recovery and our recovery needs are often in conflict. Speeding this process has kept many researchers (as well as yours truly) burning the midnight oil searching for advances. My greatest teacher was personally being on the disabled list. I wished my only goal was to recover from a marathon. Unfortunately, I tried in vain for eight years to recover from chronic calf pulls (more than 75 of them). I guess being personally injured automatically put the interest level up a notch or two. I'm not sure whether it was intelligence or ignorance that kept me persistently looking for an answer, but I ultimately found one, and this is now the foundation of my Maggs Muscle ManagementTM Program.

Physiological Changes An exercised muscle will go through micro-traumas. The micro- tears that occur after exercise require time to heal. That time is our recovery period. With a little forethought and discipline, we can expedite the recovery process, from both training and racing, while also reducing our vulnerability to injury.

The first step in a speedier recovery is to prepare your muscles better. Fast and short or long and slow, muscles recover more quickly with a thorough warm-up. My muscle management program encourages the increase of blood to muscles (The Stick is one way to do this), coupled with thorough stretching of the muscles. This will increase both the temperature and length of the muscle, making the muscle more efficient in both exercise and recovery. Circulation (food and oxygen) to the muscle will increase, while harmful toxins will be flushed from the muscle.

Recovery Once a muscle has been worked, and depending on the degree of work it has done, it will contain micro-tears. A worked muscle will also be tight, much like a clenched-fist. This environment suggests the need for circulation, but Mother Nature's time clock insists that a muscle must slowly relax before healthy volumes of new blood can get into the muscle to begin the clean- up and healing process. Again, with the combination of The Stick and stretching, new, rich blood flow is introduced to a muscle while the muscle is being manually relaxed. This allows food and oxygen to get into the muscle much faster, expediting the whole recovery process.

Now, to add one more piece to the puzzle, you have your carbohydrate window, which can help dramatically in this process. Studies have shown there is a period after intense or long endurance exercise that muscles are "hungry" for glycogen restoration. During a brief period after exercise, this "window" is your opportunity to consume carbohydrates that will speed recovery and increase your stores of glycogen for future use. "The longer you wait before you consume carbohydrates, the less 'hungry' your muscles become," says Dr. John Ivy, Ph.D., director of the exercise science laboratory at the University of Texas. "If you wait longer than 15 minutes, the rate of absorption is decreased by roughly fifty percent."

This basically says that, instead of sitting around reminiscing after a race or hard workout, get out your Stick or ask a friend to apply some good massage techniques to the most worked muscles in your body. Then, ingest some carbohydrate recovery product that will feed the muscles exactly what they are looking for.