The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Recovery Work

Man oh man, is this ever critical. Remember that your body doesn’t grow while you work out. It grows (or changes) during recovery. If you don’t give yourself proper time, nutrition, rest, support, etc., you’ll simply tear yourself to pieces.

In addition, building muscle mass requires your body to stress, tear down or damage existing tissue, and re-build, dumping vast amounts of toxins into your blood stream. It doesn’t matter if you’re working upper body one day, and lower body the next. As a bodybuilding wag once put it, “every day is kidney day.”

So…It seems to me you need a multi-phasic approach, involving body, mind, and emotions.
1) Proper nutrition. In the name of God, if you are asking your body to perform at a higher level, you MUST assume that your current habits won’t support it—otherwise you’d already be there! Fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins are an absolute must, and in plentiful array. Go for a wide range of colors in your vegetables. Take a good, wide-spectrum multi vitamin as well. Drink PLENTY of water (remember those kidneys!)
2) Proper rest. Get plenty of sleep. 8-9 hours a night, if you’re trying to upgrade your body. The recovery gnomes only work at night, dude.
3) Proper mental states. Meditate. Visualize growth. Clarify your emotional reasons for making this journey.

1) Jacuzzi-Spa. Wonderful. Physical tension often masks its own effects. I love to soak in a spa on my hard workout days, until I feel my body relax more deeply. Good Lord, it feels good.
2) Massage. I’m terrible here. Not good at all at letting other people put their hands on my body. With certain…intimate exceptions, shall we say? But trading massages with a friend or seeking professional care in this regard can be a life-saver.
3) Yoga. Bikram style yoga is a phenomenal recovery system. Drink a ton of water, follow your breathing and sweat out a river of toxins.
4) Joint rotation work. We’re talking Intu-Flow or Warrior Wellness, available at Scott Sonnon pushes his athletes like you won’t believe, and recovery work is built into the cycle. You not only need to squeeze toxins out of the muscles (that was physiologically inelegant, but you get the drift) but depressurize the traumatized tissue, realigning joints, tendons and ligaments, restore circulation by releasing tension. Let’s see, what else? How about restoring proper balance and posture? Checking in with your body to see if there is unexpected soreness or pain anywhere?

Frankly, there is too much happening for you to consciously take care of all of it. I would suggest that, if you are an athlete moving to a new level, or past thirty, that yoga be a steady and major part of your workout week, and that in addition you practice a dynamic recovery system like Scott’s. The combination will serve you well.
Scott Sonnon sent me the following note:

This is in regards to your recent post on recovery:

There are basically two aspects to development and a balanced, healthy neuro-immuno-endocrine system - which is what we're REALLY trying to improve though through the myofascial in exercise:

You're either using or or rebuilding. One or the other. We need to be rebuilding as much as we're using. If we're using more than we're rebuilding, it impacts more than just muscle. It goes to our neurological, endocrine and immune systems... and canibalizes us there.

The iPhone is working out very nicely. I’m not totally thrilled with the custom Bluetooth—it feels kinda small and easy to lose and doesn’t filter wind perfectly. But it is elegant and deceptively easy to use. I kept searching for something complicated and difficult to pair it with my phone. Turns out all you have to do is charge them next to each other, and they automatically synch up. Very cool.
I’m seriously thinking about starting a genealogy web. There is so much about my family I don’t know that it would be cool to have a web site where I can put in the names and info I know, and then invite other family members to contribute what THEY know…

Does anyone have suggestions about the best sites out there? Where information, photos and so forth can be uploaded and shared?

That’s the thought of the day. I know the moment I fell in love with Tananarive. It was when I was listening to her talk about how she got Steven King to write her a cover blurb for “My Soul To Keep.” She used her connection to the Miami Herald to get to Dave Berry, who played in the “Rock Bottom Remainders” with King. Then she offered her keyboard skills to the band, and wore a VERY slinky stage outfit. Yum. Let’s say Stevie King was bound to notice. She got him a copy of the book, and the rest is history.

I listened to her story, and realized she’d done a three-wall bank shot on the biggest writer in the world, maneuvering into an ending position VERY different from her initial position.

I thought “Jeeze, she’s REALLY smart!” and, no kidding, that was the first time I let myself notice that she was also really beautiful. Bam. I was toast.

We’ll let the therapists figure THAT one out. The point is that the ability to see that you can’t always hit the target from your bedroom window. You have to get out in the world, meet people, do things…and those things are not always directly aligned with your goals. But if you’re smart, and choose your “peripheral” activities carefully, you can use THIS position to get to THAT position from which you can meet THIS person who will finally open the door to a place from which you can finally see your target.

Learning this lesson has taken half my life.

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