Making the Most of Recovery Aids

Oh my god that is horrifying! Great, but horrifying.

that’s what i’ll probably do in the winter when i’m back home, haha

Last winter I experimented with a few different water therapies. I found the book the “Complete Book fo water therapy” to be a great book for everyone’s collection.

One method is water treading. I bought two rubbermaid containers big enough for my feet but short in height. I fill both with cold water and walk in place for several minutes. It is very soothing on the feet.

I used this when I was sick and found it helped my recovery.

ESTI, you are the king of the mad scientists!

So, I’m a little unclear… Should I do contrast baths on speed days or tempo days?

Haha it’s summer here, contrast showers are impossible. Cold water at times is Hotter than Hot water…

Does anyone remember which downloaded PDF has the “prioritizing therapy options”?? I remember it but I can’t find it anywhere.

It is on P226 of Key Concepts Elite

I am not sure if I should start a new thread for this, but it is on literally the exact same topic as this one so I figured I would post it here.

Anyways, my main question is around timing of massages. I have never included massages as part of training until the last couple weeks. Right now my HI days are MWF, and I have been getting massages on Tuesday and Fridays. I know that Charlie recommended to get deeper massages on low intensity days, so I think optimally, massage on Tuesday/Saturday would be better, but my therapist doesn’t work Saturdays. I could do Tuesday and Sunday, but I thought it would be better to have the massages more spaced out over the week. I also think that in the grand scheme of things, actually getting the massage work done is probably more important than the timing of it. What do you guys think?

On other days, from what I have read here, contrast baths/showers should go on HI days, and pulsing EMS can go on these days, and likely low intensity days as well.

One other question, what is the consensus on epsom salt baths? When I searched, there was some concern that it lowered the muscle tone too much, so I wasn’t sure where the best place to put something like this would be?

Ideal vs Real at work in your situation! Since it appears you have the option for massage, make the best of it. Charlie recommended priority given following tempo runs on low days first. Try a week getting work on tue and thur following tempo work. Then try a week doing tue or thur and then saturday. See how you feel.

I found with high school aged kids massage before speed work was better than after tempo. They had higher quality sessions when I could work on them before. When Waldemar was asked about this, he felt because in kids and their growth, they face the muscle tightness issues and could be the result of the differences.

Somewhere in at least one of the products there was or has been how to priority recovery aids. One thing I wish to say more than anything is a little bit more often is better than a lot less frequently. What is ideal for one may not be so much for you. What I also know is the layering of therapies is very useful and seems to accelerate the value of each. Do I have solid scientific proof? No, but I can tell you this is routinely how I was taught to do things. Charlie and I got into multiple discussions as I have said before about therapy and how lazy some athletes were vs how motivated others were. For some it is all about the work. For those who wish to get ahead in my mind it is also about actively pursuing all methods you have control over to revitalize and prepare to come back and hit your training harder or at least as hard as you did the day and week before. Work gets all the press and recovery is not so interesting I guess?
Don’t forget the massages you get during training in off season will differ than when you begin to compete. Try and get whom ever is working with you to divide up more times and spread the value for you. Charlie rarely spent more than 15 minutes most of the time tops when he did routine massages. Sometimes we would do treatment before ( very little at that point) and then after to check and see what has happened. Ok,I get that is not realistic but saying it might allow you to create a solution for yourself. Loosen up with a hot and cold or begin with small 10 min warm ups day of training a few hours before your key session.
I do think getting a massage is more important most of the time than the timing of it providing the therapist is familiar with you.
I did contrast baths on all days all the time as advised by Charlie. If I was not loose how was I going to train? So was it wrong to do before training? I did contrast baths at times before and after training but his was mostly when I was doing a lot of work and needing to repeat large volumes of work and you can not just rely on massage. Charlie worked very hard and expected me and his athletes to do there part in preparing to max out on the benefits of what he could do for them with therapy.
I would not to do a salt bath before training and I would be more careful about doing it post tempo and much more likely to do it after HI days directly after or just before bed. Salts lowering muscle tone? Again might be very individual as how can all people have the same chemistry and therefore response?
You are on the right track. Continue to ask questions and over time you will learn more about what you need.

would you care to explain why you think salt bath after tempo would not be the optimal option?

Rarely does one get optimal anything regarding training and regeneration until they achieve enough success that they are able to create ideal protocols. At some point in the beginning you are trying to find your way. If you want to jump into an Epson salt bath post tempo then you could argue this further removes lactates as would the tempo if done properly. ( providing tempo is having the desired effect and you are getting a proper flush from the work the day before). The last thing I ever wanted to do was to get hotter and jump into a bath after Big Circuit or 2 sets of 10x 100 or push up , sit up workout. Often I did a cool or cooler ( cold) shower if I could or contrast shower with warm water to tolerate cooler or cold.

Thanks very much for the replies Angela. You mentioned doing short 10 min warmups a few hours prior to the main session - I have done this before and I feel it usually makes a big difference if I am tight. If I have kept up with flexibility and am not so tight then it seems to have less of an effect. Do you think contrast showers would have a similar effect to this prior to a workout? When you did this would you end on hot?

Finally, some people think that recovery methods lose there value if used too frequently, what are your thoughts on this? If you were doing multiple contrast showers each day, did they still have the same effect at the end of your career as they did at the start?

When you are talking about high performance I think you will find that spreading work out works well. This general idea might apply to anyone not just athletes. In fact it was this principle that Charlie and I took to " our" post Seoul career . We took our experience from sport and his high level expertise and delivered it to those who might afford it. I have lots of people ask = " what are you training for". My stock answer = " Life". I want to keep up with my son and the adventures that I invite into my life. ( (I digress). But I am not telling you anything you have not discovered on your own am I? I know I go on and on about contrast baths and I do realize they are not for everyone but I felt it was something that really worked for me. I know Ben hated them but I also know he had to do them at times. I also know he had full access for Charlie before, during and after training in terms of massage and later Waldamar when Charlie had the funds to hire help. HOt and colds are done to end with cold. if you are doing them the right way this will be something you enjoy and look forward to.
I believe I had a real advantage on others due to my understanding of Charlie pushing active recovery. As I have said before so many people think it is all about the work. Its about the quality of work and the proper rest and understanding of recovery time between sets and the application of principles as it pertains to how work efffects our CNS. Not once ever in my life have I felt I have over done recovery. In fact this statement makes me laugh out loud. I do remember Marian shooing us out of her room at the Four Seasons because she was getting really sick of all the treatments but this was because she had so much going on day after day after day.
Charlie did do a hot and cold progression for someone once but this was a client and we were wanting to show them on paper how to accelerate recovery over time. Just curious… What would the alternative be to doing frequent recovery methods? If your program is progressively building in higher volumes and higher qualities of work then does recovery stay the same or does the recovery just accelerate your own bodies ability to handle more work over time? I thought the idea of active regeneration is really to shore up more energy and feel better so that you can go hit the training harder the next day and maybe with less effort and have more on reserve? In my experience people are really lazy when it comes to doing non glamourous work. Training is cool. Epson salts baths not so much. What ever … I dont care. you need to proove to your self . I didnt have tons of fights with my coach about this topic for nothing I tell you that.

Ange,as usual,thanks for posting your truly enlightening experiences as an athlete,human,and coach.
Contrast showers/baths are an extremely valuable training other than recovery tool. When done properly (alternating maximally tolerated cold and maximally tolerated hot) they provide what is instantaneously perceived as a life or death situation by the brain in an extremely safe and controllable manner. The body responds to such a stimulus maximally activating all its resources to engage the two opposing stimuli,successfully negotiate the suddenly changing environment,and secure its own survival. All this is done only managing sensory afference of information to the brain,with no CNS otput (motor efference from the brain) ,hence the greatest value recovery wise. Also,having no output costs,but only metabolic ones,provided these latter are properly addressed,such a stimuli can be very successfully applied daily,all of the time,as in Angela’s experience,and they may truly represent a simple,nevertheless key,training for life tool at its purest.I like to think of them as training of the highest quality. Keep doing them long enough and they willact and feel exactly like training,while creating and supporting precious adaptation processes in the organism.

I was thinking about this more kbm. I understand that it makes sense that doing recovery methods over time might feel like they lose their value but I know this is not true at least from what I have experienced. I wanted to mention a few things because it is important.
Over time you will get better at understanding how you want to do certain methods of recovery. YOu speak to people and you test it your self and you learn just by how you feel.
Some people don’t really want to think about this kind of recovery which is what I was getting at with Marion. It was my impression that she did not mind doing all the treatments etc but at a certain point she just wanted everyone out of her room so she could do what ever.
Charlie spoke often about Ben watching all the Jackie Chan movies day in and day out and he and others liked to hang out and not do much. This too can be a kind of active recovery in that doing nothing is pretty important for some athletes in contrast to the intensity of how they train.
I remember Al vermeil telling us that is was very difficult to get the athletes ( Chicago Bulls)to adhere to any protocals of anything recovery oriented once they left the training factilities.
TRack is different and individual sports are as well because you have to rely only on your self and therefor you need to look for all the tricks and places you might get ahead.
I guess if I did the hot and cold the same all the time it might lose it’s value but each time I have done it is different and the more I do certain things the more I tweak it so I get more out of it. I would say the tools I have used as an athlete were more useful the older I got ( more info is for sure better as is more experience) and I would also say those tools serve me very well now if and when I need them.
And my comment about lazy… well I always felt a lot of the sprinters I knew were just born relaxed. This was certainly not the case for me and I admired those who needed less active recovery but hey we are all different…;).
It is always interesting to hear what others say too so I hope my thoughts might invite others to say something on this as well.

For the sake of feedback from a diversity of people…
The more I train through the years, the more I realize that doing absolutely nothing (non-active recovery versus active) makes me feel like crap, and picking up a training session the next time is more difficult… (Which is why I enjoy double sessions too, even if the morning one is a pure warm up, with a quick stretch, drills, strides, and go home).

Easy biking home for 15’ after every single training has also helped me a lot, especially after lactic sessions on the track.

With some intense weight room sessions now during a very cold winter in Milan (and no chance to run fast on the track), muscle soreness and tightness goes wonderfully with what could be described as ‘contrast therapy’ (that you guys speak about), but with the aid of alternating sauna and cold baths. (so wonderful… and mentally ‘easier’ than switching the temperature yourself in a shower).

Mentally easier often only means there is no signal to adapt to and you are slipping into a restorative mode,and out of an adaptive one,which is what makes you feel good. But there may certainly be individual exceptions.

Pakewi, when speaking about this and adaptive mode of discomfort - do you conclusively think that every training session should not feel good, so as to adapt to something each time when seeking a meaningful purpose?
To go along this, I wanted to comment that the more I train, the more a realize that a ‘comfortable’ training (especially when speaking of ‘restorative’ tempo or long run training), has a deteriorating effect to the way I feel at the end. Perhaps this also justifies Charlie’s saying that tempo doesn’t have to/shouldn’t feel easy (so there’s some form of adaptation each time one does something - correct me if I’m inaccurate please).
I think this is something that the majority of people get wrong, and that ‘simply moving for the sake of moving’ is not enough, for whatever purpose, if one strives to continuously evolve through training.
With that being said, I agree with your comment above…

(Now I may read this tomorrow and disagree with myself, but at least I can have some feedback and thoughts on my today’s thought … =) )