From infrared saunas to stretching classes, it’s clear that recovery is having a moment. And for good reason, according to the national fitness manager of , Kate Allott. She says giving your body time to de-stress and repair is just as important as working out, if not more so.
“Basically, recovery is vital to your results,” Allott says. “If you don’t allow your body adequate recovery time, your progress can slow, it can stop, and sometimes it may even move backwards.”
However, with so many options on offer, how do you know which recovery method will be the most effective for you?
“Everyone responds differently to different methods,” she says. “The best idea is to tune in and listen to your body to see what works for you. Just remember; quality sleep and staying hydrated are key, no matter what.”
With that in mind, we grilled Allott on the four newest and most talked-about recovery methods available.
Essentially, cryotherapy is a technologically advanced version of the good old ice bath. It requires you to stand in your swimmers for three minutes in a cylindrical machine, where the temperature plummets to -150 degrees. Admittedly it is quite chilly, but the time is so short that participants generally don’t feel the true temperature extremes.
“Cryo is definitely a very effective method for athletic recovery as it repairs muscles and reduces muscle pain and swelling,” Allott says. “While results are impressive, this one’s a little cold for me, so I’ll leave it to the athletes.”
Differing from traditional saunas, these saunas use infrared heat to help your muscles repair. There is no steam or humidity, but you will end up sweating. A lot. Infrared saunas claim to not only aid muscle recovery but also detoxification and stress relief.
“I’m a fan of heat so I hit infrared saunas weekly,” Allott says. “If traditional saunas are too hot for you, infrared saunas boast the same results with less heat.”
Invented in the mid-1950s, float tanks work today on the basis of Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy, or REST, and they offer proven benefits for mental-and-physical relaxation. Individual pods are filled with water and Epsom salts so you can float in darkness for up to an hour.
“Float tanks are great for recovery of the body, but even more so for the mind,” explains Allott. “They offer a great chance to disconnect from your phone and the outside world, and to unwind.”
The new kid on the recovery block, assisted stretch classes are based around the idea of static stretching with a professional to help (gently) challenge your muscles. Classes are designed to increase flexibility, reduce muscle and joint pain and stimulate under-used deep, postural muscles.
“Moving functionally and freely in everyday life is really important, so elongating your muscles after a heavy gym session is a must,” Allott says. “I love stretch classes.” ●