The fourth and final leg of the 4 Legs Fitness concept is about recovery. Muscles are repaired and built during recovery. We already mentioned in the description of the first leg (Resistance Training) how important recovery and the quality of rest is for your fitness gains. There are many forms of recovery such as massages, stretching, sauna, meditation, cold showers, foam rolling, breathing exercises (we especially like the Wim Hof method) or flossing. The latter is especially helpful against tightness or even injury (check this for example).
But the king of all recovery method is -- sleep. Easy and cheap but so effective. Apart from the fact that training is just not fun when we are grumpy, good quality sleep brings Cortisol levels down. Cortisol is a hormone (also known as the stress hormone) that reduces protein synthesis and prevents tissue growth (more or less the opposite of what testosterone does) (source). Also lack of sleep increases the levels of Ghrelin which typically raises appetite and makes you eat more, which makes it harder to stick to your planned calorie intake from the third leg (source). In our book we cover a range of practical tips and tricks to improve your quality and also duration of sleep. Resistance training BTW, also contributes to getting better sleep (source).
Another aspect that for us falls into the category of recovery is mobility and flexibility improvement. Both will improve your performance. In order to execute a deep squat perfectly you need a lot of mobility. Generally, good programs are based on concepts from the field of gymnastics or locomotion (animal movements).
To recover from injuries, flossing can be useful. Other than that, one of the most effective (also painful) methods is dry needling. It’s similar to acupuncture but the needles are larger, go deeper and stimulate a trigger point directly until the muscle “resets” and relaxes its tension. Also, muscle injuries or soreness can be treated with creams or ointments like Deep Heat or Tiger Balm.
Finally a quick word on compression clothes and tapes: Their effectiveness is still not fully proven. However, they do make sense during recovery. In training your muscles experienced micro tears that lead to inflammation. Compression restricts blood vessels and can reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
This sums up our blog post series to introduce the 4 legs of our 4 Legs Fitness concept. You can get all the details and also free access our training plan tool in our book. Interested? Take a look at our book page.