Active Recovery is the Answer
There are four main factors that regulate muscle recovery in adequately hydrated, nourished, and rested individuals: (1) the bringing in of nourishment and other supplies; (2) the removal of waste; (3) the production and release of myokines; and (4) the remodeling of the repaired tissue.
Only active recovery can accomplish all of these goals as muscle activation is the fundamental facilitator of the four processes noted above.
When skeletal muscles are amply activated, they send a message to the smooth muscles that surround the blood vessels to relax. Once relaxed, the blood vessels dilate (widen) and circulation increases.
Next, let’s look at the process of lymphatic drainage. First and foremost, it is important to recognize that the lymphatic system is passive, meaning that the movement of waste is nearly fully dependent upon the activation of the muscles that surround the lymphatic vessels. Muscle activation is needed to push waste through the complex mechanical marvel that is our lymphatic system.
Then the muscle activation of active recovery provides the needed mechanical stress to facilitate the production and release of myokines; which drives the tissue regeneration process.
Lastly, repaired muscle tissue cannot optimally remodel without mechanical stress. Failure to optimally remodel the repaired muscle tissue leads directly to dysfunctional movement. Active recovery provides the needed mechanical stress to optimally remodel the repaired muscle tissue.
So if muscle activation through active recovery is the only way to accomplish all of the goals needed for ideal recovery; then what’s the best way to actively recover?
Marc Pro – Active Recovery Perfected
Traditional active recovery can be very helpful, but the reality is that traditional active recovery isn’t always good, it can actually make you worse, and even at its very best it’s extremely limited. Traditional active recovery (AR) might include a light ride on a stationary bike, walk, or sub-maximal swim.
If your AR is too aggressive or you do it for too long you’ll actually cause more fatigue as opposed to recovering. Too much AR will also put strain or stress on other parts of your body that weren’t even part of your original problem. If your AR is too minimal it just won’t do much of anything. And some muscles are almost impossible to perform AR on. Even if you find the perfect level of AR and do everything right your success is inherently limited. What happens when you’ve completed your AR, but you’re not fully recovered. You’d like to recover more, but any more AR will start stressing your body and cause further fatigue. You have to stop and be happy with the amount of AR you got. On top of all of this AR is just not very much fun. Who wants to get back on a bike, do cardio, or swim some laps after a grueling workout.
So what is needed for the perfect active recovery? Active recovery that is substantial enough to get all the physiological processes going (increased blood flow, increase lymphatic drainage, mechanical stress needed to facilitate repair and remodeling, etc.) Active recovery that will never cause more fatigue. Active recovery that won’t put stress or strain on any part of your body. Active recovery that you can do to any muscle of your body. Active recovery that is unlimited; the more you need or want the more you can get. Active recovery that is easy, comfortable, and convenient.
What type of active recovery meets all of these criteria? Marc Pro. There is no method, process or product that can come close to the recovery benefits of Marc Pro. No other recovery method or product can meet all of these criteria. Marc Pro is recovery perfected.
What About Compression?
Muscle activation, also known as active recovery, initiates (via mechanical stress) a cascade of events that automatically lead to tissue regeneration and remodeling (recovery). “Squeezing the skin,” also known as external compression, does not.
External compression can help to push some waste out of the treated limbs, but even that comes with a major caveat, because too much pressure (think tourniquet) essentially stops circulation thereby halting the recovery effort and too little pressure contributes nothing to the recovery effort. Plus squeezing the skin does not activate muscles; which is the key factor in pushing waste through the complex network of lymphatic vessels.
Compression products may claim that when the external pressure of the device releases, blood rushes in. But what they fail to mention is that during external compression (squeezing the skin), blood flow is significantly reduced, which produces no net increase in blood flow.
Try this experiment: stretch out a garden hose, turn on the spigot and look at the water running out of the other end. Then, step on the hose (external compression) and notice that the flow decreases proportionate to the amount of pressure that you apply. Then take your foot off the hose and notice that the water is again flowing at full strength. True, there is an initial surge when you remove your foot, but there is no net gain.
Next, external compression does nothing to generate the mechanical stress needed to facilitate the production and release of myokines by the involved muscles, which, by the way, drives the tissue regeneration process.
Lastly, repaired muscle tissue cannot optimally remodel without mechanical stress. Failure to optimally remodel the repaired muscle tissue leads directly to dysfunctional movement and, squeezing the skin contributes nothing to the remodeling process.
What About Ice or Cryotherapy
Ice and cryotherapy can be useful in certain circumstances. If your goal is to reduce core body temperature to a safe level, ice baths can be helpful. If short term pain relief is needed an ice pack can be used. And if your goal is to prevent the body’s normal cellular and vascular response to injury (e.g., severed limb) ice has a purpose. However if the goal is to help the lympathic system evacuate trapped waste from the damaged area or to help deliver fresh blood and nourishment to the region, ice should be avoided.
Though icing has been considered mainstream by many, a closer look reveals the practice to be more habitual than based on scientific evidence. Even the physician who coined the term RICE (Dr. Gabe Mirkin in his 1978 sports medicine book) has officially retracted his stance on rest and ice.1
We now know far more about the role of inflammatory cells in healing than we did in 1978. Healing requires many different chemicals, proteins and new cells to repair the damage. Ice leads to a decrease in blood flow and therefore a decrease in the chemicals, proteins and cells needed for repair.
In 2013 the National Strength and Conditioning Association found that: “topical cooling, a commonly used clinical intervention appears to not improve but rather delay recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage.2”
Slowing down all your metabolic processes with ice does seem counter-intuitive when you’re trying to speed recovery, and freezing tissue can have some really negative effects.
Here’s what happens: “When ice is applied to a body part for a prolonged period, nearby lymphatic vessels begin to dramatically increase their permeability (lymphatic vessels are ‘dead-end’ tubes which ordinarily help carry excess tissue fluids back into the cardiovascular system). As lymphatic permeability is enhanced, large amounts of fluid begin to pour from the lymphatics ‘in the wrong direction’ (into the injured area), increasing the amount of local swelling and pressure and potentially contributing to greater pain.3”
2.[Topical Cooling (Icing) Delays Recovery from Eccentric Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage Tseng, Ching-Yu; Lee, Jo-Ping, et. al.].
3.[the use of Cryotherapy in Sports Injuries,’ Sports Medicine, vol. 3 pp. 398-414, 1986]