The Best Workout Recovery Protocol for Reducing Injury Risk and Improving Performance

It’s the end of your workout. Whether you finished a run, boot camp or weightlifting session your mind is already moving on to the next of 100 tasks you need to finish…

But wait! 

You’re missing out on one of the two most critical times post workout to maximize your gains and minimize soft tissue imbalances. I promise it will only take 6-8 mins and it’s worth getting done, besides do you really want to rush to your car all sweaty when you forgot to bring a towel to sit on (raise your hand if that’s you)?

So now that I have a few minutes of your time, let’s go over our 3-step protocol that we believe can be applied to any workout, training, sport or age:

Step 1: Assess (30-60 secs)

Will let these videos do most of the talking, but essentially it’s a good idea to know where you may have joint or muscle stiffness from possible imbalances, overuse or compensation occurring during your workout. 

Quickly do these two tests to see which body part needs the most attention. Note: If you want to become your own movement expert, perform these tests BEFORE the workout too so you can determine if you maintained, gain or lost mobility. 

Shoulder Mobility Test

Hip Mobility Test

Step 2: Relax what is tight/painful/overactivated (2-4 mins)

This is where your handy dandy foam roller or stretching comes in. Based on your tests, if you have:

Shoulder Tightness-Work on lats 

Hip Tightness- Work on quads/glutes 

Note: This is the minimal effective dosage for success and applies to the people who are saying in their head right now “I don't really have 5-6 mins to do this but FINE i'll try). We appreciate you and know your body will too! If you have more time, or can do it during the second most important time of the day (keep reading) then do more. 

Now the physiological outcome of step 2, “relaxing muscles” is to shut off the neurological signal from the brain to muscle. It got worked, now it needs to relax and recover. So we recommend that you foam roll/myofascial release BEFORE stretching. 

The pressure causes more significant neurological shut down, making your stretching more effective. You can get away with only doing one or the other, but if your neuromuscular connections were to choose, they’d choose foam roller every time. 

Step 3: Reactivate/rebalance your fundamental movements (2-4 mins)

This is the critical one. The truth of the matter is no matter what training or workout you do, compensation is going to occur. You’re going to get tired or going to try to push the weights and intensity. And that’s great! Can’t make no changes if you’re not pushing the limit. 

BUT you need to take time to get your fundamentals in check or you will create muscle imbalances that will cause performance loss and potential injuries. It’s the most important thing we discuss with our clients who are seeing us for those two things. 

The outcome of this step is reactivate so we can stay balanced. The two movements we’re trying to reinforce are overhead for shoulders and hip extension. These are two drills we commonly give to our clients as part of their specific post-train protocol:

So let’s recap...oh wait! 

I forgot to tell you the second most important time of day for this protocol. It’s prior to bedtime, in the last 30 mins before it’s zZZz. Why then? That’s when you have the opportunity to turn off any compensation or overactivation that was lingering throughout the day and could cause you to wake up in the middle of the night or feel 100x older than you are when you get up in the morning. When we are at rest we want EVERYTHING at rest. 

Ok so now let’s recap. 3 steps. Assess, relax, rebalance. 

By the time you finished reading this article, (unless you’re a speed reader and watcher of videos) you could be done with this protocol and on with your next thing. My goal of this blog is to hopefully help you feel that it’s not a daunting task to take care of your body. I won’t even be mad if you don’t do it everyday! Just be as consistent as you can and you’ll be amazed at how much better you could feel and perform. 

To your movement and orthopedic health, 

Dr. B

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