Combat sports are vicious on your body, it is an unavoidable consequence of embarking down that path. Regardless of how far you travel, (professional athlete or the occasional combatant) you will receive your fair share of bumps and bruises. Turning your body into a weapon and hurling it at another person set on doing the same is a recipe for trauma. Pulling and pushing on necks, hips, knees, and shoulders further compounds the issue and it is all topped off by heavy lifting and intense repetitive drilling

The goal of any training is to apply a specific stress to the body eliciting the desired response. We now possess a more in-depth understanding of physiology than ever before which allows us to better target the desired adaptations. When we train we are applying stressors to our musculature and nervous system that only have an opportunity to create positive adaptations if the system is given an opportunity to rest and recover.

We cannot forsake exercise for any significant period of time and expect to perform at 100 percent but pushing your body non-stop and asking for top performance is just as ridiculous. Your internal systems will begin to self-destruct, your adrenal glands will fatigue, causing your immune system to plummet. Your risk of injury skyrockets as you are no longer able to properly activate and control your body. Your muscles begin wasting despite your training and your whole body becomes achy as if you are gripped by an unshakeable cold. In addition to these physical ailments your mood enters a downward spiral, your sex drive will disappear along with your motivation and the idea of even getting out of bed becomes difficult…then you start playing games inside your own head,

“I’m out of shape. Why am I so lazy? Get up you piece of s***! I just need to train harder, that’s it, double down on my training”

Convinced that your problem is motivation or work ethic you head back to the gym intent on training through it, which, despite the best intentions pushes you further into this fatigued state.

Overtraining

If we decide that we don’t want to take the appropriate rest and properly recover our body slips into a state of overreaching, our system is being over-taxed but we can recover if given rest. Unfortunately, that rarely happens and we enter overtraining.

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Overtraining affects your body on so many different levels, Patrick Ward does a great job of breaking them down into 4 distinct categories.

  • ·      Physiological
  • ·      Psychological / Behavioural
  • ·      Information Processing
  • ·      Immune Response

Simplified, we will get sick, have no appetite, feel foggy, lose muscle mass and feel tired all the time.

How can we stop this cycle and become a superhuman again?

Recovery

Recovery is the key to longevity, interestingly this applies to mental states as much as physical but that is a different post for a different day. Taking the time to rest and properly recover allows your musculature and nervous system the time needed to build and improve. Think about your body as a highway construction site, (which everyone hates) the area needing repair must be blocked off and remain free of traffic until the work can be completed. Ask the workers to perform the same task while cars continue to use the road and the result will be chaos, further deterioration, and likely physical injury.

To help guide you we put together three short regenerative methods we suggest implementing into your schedule, they will expedite the recovery process and help keep you training at 100 percent.

-I have avoided adding nutrition for a few different reasons. Foremost, it is not my specialty, I don’t handle it and anything I saw is a regurgitation of something Sylvie Tetrault has said to me. Secondly, the section on nutrition is far too broad to be covered in a brief post-

Massage Therapy

Although the jury may still be out on certain aspects of massage there is no doubt that it is valuable for relaxation and increased parasympathetic activity, several studies utilizing HRV technology have highlighted a decrease in sympathetic activity and increase in parasympathetic tone. In simpler terms, it will help to regulate your body and shift it out of fight-or-flight and into rest and recovery, attacked by a bear to lounging by the fire with a turkey drumstick. The ability to rapidly shift into a rest and recovery state allows us more time for repair, a skill necessary over for career longevity.

Sauna

Sawwna – At least that is how the Russian guy in my head pronounces it. Saunas have a horrible stigma in the martial arts community. Drawn out dehydrated fighters pounding on the door to get out, this is unfortunate because they are fantastic for recovery. There are several protocols but this is the one I tend to follow. (Joel Jamieson Recommended) Try it yourself and remember to bring water and stop if you feel lightheaded.

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  • Pre-heat the sauna to the highest temperature possible, at least 200 degrees is preferable
  • Begin by getting in the sauna and stay in until you first break a sweat and then get out
  • Rinse off for 5-10 seconds in lukewarm water and then get out of the shower, pat yourself off, wrap a towel around yourself and then sit down for 2-3 minutes
  • Get back in the sauna and stay in for 5-10 minutes. The original method calls for staying in until 150 drops of sweat have dripped off your face, but I’ve found for most people this is 5-10 minutes
  • Take another shower, this time make it as cold as possible and stay in it for 30 seconds. It’s most important to let the water cover your head completely the whole time
  • Get out of the shower, pat yourself dry, wrap a towel around yourself, and sit down and relax until you stop sweating completely and your skin is dry. This typically takes anywhere from 3-10 minutes
  • Return to the sauna, this time stay in for 10-15 minutes and then get out
  • Repeat step 5-6
  • Get back in the sauna for another 10-15 minutes and then get out
  • Take another shower, this time make it fairly warm and stay in for 1-2 minutes
  • Dry yourself completely off, lay down and relax for 5-10 minutes

Sleep

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Without a doubt the most crucial aspect of recovery, if you do everything else right and lack proper sleep your performance will suffer. The Bulgarian Olympic weightlifting team takes this very seriously, as a member you are obligated to sleep 12 hours every night plus a 3-hour nap during the day, we are not suggesting that everyone sleep 15 hours a day but it is important to have deep, uninterrupted REM sleep. We have a full article on sleep dropping later this week so be sure to look for it. Here are the Coles notes.

  1. Turn off your cell phone or put it in airplane mode.
  2. Complete darkness, if this is not possible pick up a sleep mask.
  3. Keep the room comfortably cool.
  4. Turn off all screens 30-45 minutes prior to heading to bed. (Computer/Cell Phone/ TV)
  5. Take a natural sleep supplement. (Magnesium or Melatonin)  

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