How to beat the DOMS? These are Naomi’s best practices
What if you really go for it in training, you suffer the DOMS... but the results are not what you expected?
What do you do? Train harder?
You results are probably stuck in recovery. Because when you recover faster and better, you can get after it with 100% in your next training... and that will give you better results.
But: Recover better, but how? Get inspired by what Naomi and elite-athletes do.
Recovery practice #1: Nutrition
Naomi wrote this in the Whole30 group this week:
"I will not proceed with the reintroduction until the CrossFit Open competition is finished. I need my best recovery after trainingsessions now to perform th ebest I can. (...)
After all three of the reintroductions I have done (gluten free grains, goats dairy and legumes) I couldn't train the next day because I had no power. After legumes I felt like a dish rag (Dutch expression). I am still not at 100% on the second day"
Recovery from training starts... with food! Performing your best in sports... starts with food. The heart of Naomi's sport, CrossFit, are MetCon's, metabolic conditioning workouts. If you simplify that it means: can you metabolize the food you eat into energy to fuel your workouts. Whoever does that best, wins.
Naomi's metabolism is very sensitive. What she eats has a direct impact on how powerful her body feels. She has the best results if she eats this:
- → 3 meals a day + small pre- and post workout meals
- → Animal protein with every meal, also the pre- and post workout, like fish, chicken, eggs, meat
- → Carbohydrates from plants, mostly vegetables. All the color of the rainbow, also vegetables like (sweet) potatoes.
- → Healthy fats from olive oil, avocado, ghee, coconut oil and almond milk
- → Supplements like fish oil, magnesium D3, BCAA's and creatine
Exactly this is what we recommend to anybody who wants better results... and not just with sports, but also for getting more focus at work or better health in general. This is the foundation for our nutrition program Whole30 en is in line with the motto of author Micael Pollan: "Eat real food, not too much, mostly plants". And by plants, we mean vegetables... and a little fruit.
Naomi is sensitive to grains, legumes, and dairy. She doesn't have an immediate reaction to it, but when she eats it regularly, she feels less powerful, not recovered. Injuries start to occur.
We also noticed that the elite athletes in her sports are embracing their nutrition as one of the factors that can decide between winning or losing.
In our society we mostly pay attention to what we eat when we want to lose weight... that negative association has shifted the focus away from what good food can actually bring. We seem to forget that your food provides the building blocks for your muscle, your bones, your hormones, your connective tissue... and of course: the fuel to workout at 100% the next training. People who follow a strict diet with (very) little calories, not enough protein and almost no carbs, have trouble with their recovery and literally walk around with lots of soreness.
You probably don't have any plan to become an elite athlete, but this is a serious focal point for anyone who wants to live an active and healthy life, even when you do not need to lose weight. What you eat, is the most important part of the recovery puzzle.
Recovery practice #2: Sleep
At the start of January Naomi wrote in her Whole30 journal:
Goal: 2x per week extra power nap, minimum (20 min, Mon/Wed/Fri)
1x per week extra sleep, minimum (90min, Tues/Thurs/Sun)
To improve in her sport, Naomi plans more than just her training. She sets goals in sleeping. Because: training will actually make you worse. Yes, you read that right: training will make you worse, and I'll prove it to you: do a longer workout with lots of reps. The first sets are easy: bang, bang, bang... 20 minutes of going after it later, you are struggling with the same barbell, laboring through the last reps. You started out with sets of 10, now you are down to singles. The training has damaged the muscles, fried the central nervous system and used up all the energy. The improvement from that training happens when you recover... with sleep. Deep sleep.
Your body is capable to make human growth hormone. The stuff some athletes use ad doping. Your body makes it, by itself, on two occasions: after an intense workout and during deep sleep. When you sleep is when your muscles grow stronger en you get better.
What you want to achieve is super compensation. When the repairs to the damaged area super seed the old version, so you will sustain less damage with the same intensity. I like to use the analogy of an earthquake. Super compensation is when the houses are rebuilt stronger after an earthquake. So they can withstand the next quake. In training, you increase intensity, you make a bigger earthquake... and the repairs after that will be even stronger and better.
Those planned extra naps that Naomi set as a goal are an addition to the 8 hours of sleep she gets every night: 5 times through the sleep cycle. In order to get those 8 hours in while getting up pretty early in the morning, we need to be in bed really early. To really get some sleep them, we are in near darkness at home in the evening... intensity: candlelight. Naomi writes in her journal to clear her head and fall asleep easily. Full-time athletes usually prioritize sleep even more, aiming for 10 hours a night: 6 times the sleep cycle. That will generate extra (natural!) growth hormone and with that extra recovery.
This is a part where the average active person (maybe you) grossly underestimates... but it will leave you wondering why your training doesn't yield the results you crave, and why the soreness is so intense and stays so long. Maybe you are getting 5 to 6 hour nights, because you are working from home in the evening, watching screens with blue light, drinking coffee to keep you awake and going, or taking a glass of wine to relax (which will mess up your sleep cycles, even when you do go K.O., you won't recover as well).
Maybe to get after it so hard, you set your alarm clock ridiculously early to train an unrested body. Maybe you come to Bootcamp after a night on the town, hardly slept and alcohol still in the bloodstream. That could be why, despite your intense training, your results aren't showing. Even if you follow the programming of the elites... you don't recover like an elite.
Recovery practice # 3: Massage, foam rolling, ROMWOD, and so on ...
Naomi's goal is to be at least once a week on the massage table. We have taken out additional health insurance for her so that she can go to the physiotherapy every week in times of lots of training, to immediately nip all incipient injuries in the bud. The best way to stay flexible is to let someone else eliminate all adhesions in muscles and connective tissues. This does not look at all like the friendly rubbing in many wellness centers, this can sometimes hurt a lot. Elite athletes do this every day, but that is not feasible for us financially.
You yourself can also do a lot to remove adhesions, knots, and waste from your muscles, which is part of recovery. Naomi is on the foam roller every day. She benefits nicely from the people who train with us to whom she can explain the foam roles: she is rolling alongside them nicely. She smashes painful spots on the handle of a kettlebell, sometimes trigger points herself (if she can reach the point, otherwise she asks a friend) and she works at least 7 times a week on her mobility by doing ROMWOD.
In this category of recovery too, top athletes often have all the equipment and people at their disposal to be able to give 100% as soon as possible in the training. For example, muscle stimulation devices: those with electrodes that contract your muscles. This stimulates blood flow, the removal of waste and therefore your recovery. But a good muscle stimulation device quickly costs hundreds of euros, Games athletes use devices of more than € 1200. Not feasible for us.
If you suffer from muscle pain for a long time, it could be because you do not pay any attention to this. We see it with so many people, including the fanatic athletes: they are often as stiff as a rake and that blocks progress. But do you wonder why, when you first go full speed in the training and then sit for hours on an office chair or in a car seat? Give yourself 20 minutes a day to foam painful areas or to do the ROMWOD. It makes a world of difference.
Recovery point # 4: Balance in your life
Between training sessions, completely relaxing ... that helps greatly in your recovery. Think of meditation, being in nature, deep, warm social contacts, reading an interesting book, clearing your head by writing a diary, breathing techniques ... You can fill a day with it! Naomi enthusiastically reflects in various diaries, likes to take a walk and has recently become a bookworm. We do not really get to the rest of the things that could contribute to recovery. Even her day only consists of 24 hours. She does not live a life of an elite athlete ... she consciously chooses not to: to be an elite athlete you have to have a maniacal focus on one thing, your sport. Everything has to give way. They train several times a day, eat perfect meals, sleep 10 hours a day, go to the physiotherapist/masseuse every day. Make room for relaxation by, for example, meditation. It is their job. Most people (like us and you probably too) ... still, have a job or a company, maybe children who need care, a partner who wants attention, a social life (please note: many top athletes hardly have a social life! ). You name it. Every day to a masseuse, you probably do not have the budget for that either.
That is why we are recovering less... and that makes a huge difference in what a top athlete can achieve as a result and what your result would be, even if you could do the same training.
Yet it is useful to look at what you can do to recover more quickly, to have less muscle pain and to be able to give 100% more quickly in your next training.
PS Also read the frame that you can better leave to recovery!
Often used method you should avoid:
NO ICE → after training or when an injury occurs, many people grab ice. But that is totally counterproductive! What you want is that the damage caused by training or because you have rolled your ankle is solved as quickly as possible. That is why your body sends the troops to it, that's why it swells up, it gets warm and, yes: that hurts. But ice closes all roads for the servicemen. It is as if a traffic accident happened somewhere and the police and fire brigade cannot go there. Ice helps with the pain, yes ... but your recovery takes (much) longer. As long as the pain is tolerable: no ice! (PS: Athletes who jump into ice baths after exertion do so to get the core temperature down again.)
NO PAINKILLERS → Painkillers often do something similar. For example, it blocks an enzyme that causes the inflammatory response, while that is the beginning of recovery. And the same enzyme is also needed for recovery, but unfortunately, there is no selective blocking. By taking anti-inflammatory painkillers you block the pain and THE recovery. So you have less pain, but longer.