It’s not OK for clients to train hard every single day: recovery days enable you to become more attuned to your body’s needs, and perform better, says Aussie Olympian Genevieve La Caze.
Your clients and members work out for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s for overall fitness or training for a high intensity or long distance event, whatever the motivator, it’s important they remember to build in some recovery time and routines.
There’s a lot of information out there about the importance of recovery, with the general consensus being that it’s good to give your body a rest every now and then if you’re training hard at the gym.
Overtraining is a very real concern that plagues a lot of gym goers who convince themselves that that it’s not necessary to rest in between training sessions, and that it’s OK to go hard every day without allowing time for their bodies to recover.
Believe it or not, this is a problem that even Olympic contenders face. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t train 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even Olympians get rest days! When I was training for Rio (3,000m steeplechase) and still competing in various meets across Europe, I always had Fridays as my designated rest day.
That meant no running, no weights, and definitely no gym. I had one day a week to rest and recover before it was right back on the track for the other six days of the week.
It was during this time that I became even more attuned to my body, and knew exactly when to push and when not to overdo it. Breaking my ankle in 2013 in the middle of racing season put me out of contention for a very long time, and I definitely don’t want to be back in that place any time soon. I also make sure I listen to my body and don’t overdo the training when I’m tired or run down.
How should your clients be looking at their recovery after a session? There are certain things I implement in my recovery post-workout that have become essential parts of my routine to keep my body ready for the high exercise demands I put on it.
Before each workout and race, stretching is key as it’s absolutely essential for me to have a full range of motion before I start moving.
2. Foam rolling
Foam rolling has really hit the mainstream over the past couple of years, and for good reason. I always incorporate foam rolling into my routine, and use a firm ball such as a hockey ball to trigger point glute muscles, high hamstrings, and my lower back. I also like foam rolling my quads, ITB’s and hamstrings after a particularly demanding training session or event. I use the Roll Recovery R8, which really helps with areas that are tough to foam roll like adductors and the inside of the thighs. Taking time to speak with your clients about foam rolling may enhance both their workouts and recovery.
I usually book in for a massage once a week for about an hour to help with any residual soreness and stiffness in my muscles.
4. Joint protection
As a runner, I’m always putting a great deal of stress on my joints, and during racing season I am literally travelling from race to race. In an event like the steeplechase where I’m constantly at risk of wear and tear because of the obstacles I have to overcome in the race, I apply a topical gel called Flexiseq every morning and most evenings before I train, to give me extra protection. It really helps with any joint stiffness I’m feeling after an intense session or especially gruelling race. Sometimes I pull up sore or have tendons become inflamed after certain sessions, so keeping a topical gel close by to use as recovery helps my body feel better. With around 100km a week of vigorous training, jumping, lifting and hurdling, keeping my body healthy and strong is my main priority.
5. Ice baths
This one might not necessarily be accessible to the average gym goer, but I love ice bathing when I’m trying to freshen up or flush out the legs for an up and coming race. It really helps to suppress inflammation and any damage caused during a race. If your clients can’t readily access an ice bath, they can try using icepacks on specific areas. I like to use CoolCore wraps. They can be stored in the freezer and then packed in a little zip container that comes along with the wrap. This way, you can wrap them directly on so you don’t freeze or irritate the skin. If you don’t have a CoolCore wrap handy, you need to remember to add a layer between the ice pack and your skin.
Genevieve La Caze is an Australian Olympian and athletics competitor who specialises in the 3000m steeplechase and the 5000m. She was selected to represent Australia in the steeplechase at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and most recently at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, where she smashed her personal best time. She recently broke the Australian record for the 3000m steeplechase in Paris, making her the fastest Aussie steeplechaser in history.