Are you feeling sore from 18.1 or 18.2/18.2 a? I know I am. These types of workouts are designed to be particularly taxing, and you also are going to be more amped up for the competition and therefore push your body just a bit harder than it is used to. In this post, I'm going to outline some ways you can optimize your CrossFit Open recovery and keep yourself healthy through this five week period.
Foam rolling gets a lot of mixed reviews. Some people believe it works extremely well, others believe it is a complete waste of time. In my experience, foam rolling has been very beneficial. Essentially, foam rolling is self-issued soft tissue work. You are trying to elicit the same results you would get from a professional body worker such as a massage therapist. You can greatly improve your CrossFit Open recovery by simply spending 10-15 minutes on the foam roller after your workout.
We can use 18.2/18.2 a as an example. You've just done 55 dumbbell squats, 55 burpees, and at least 1 or two cleans. I'm going to go out on a limb and say your legs felt as smashed as mine after that workout. Therefore, to jumpstart our CrossFit Open recovery, we should roll out our quads, glutes, and hamstrings following this type of workout.
Rolling out is extremely simple, but it is not easy. Just rolling misses the point - it isn't the act of rolling which helps you recover, it is breaking up the knotted areas of the muscle through the pressure you apply with the foam roller. Spend 2 minutes per muscle group, and when you find a very tight spot in your muscles (this will hurt a lot when you find it) stay over that spot until the pain dissipates. Target the muscles you anticipate being taxed from each workout.
Cooling down is something CrossFit athletes do an extremely poor job at, usually. If you are an athlete in almost any field sport (football, basketball, soccer, track, etc.) you spend time cooling down after each training session and game. This cool down serves an important purpose which can support your CrossFit Open recovery: it brings your body temperature back to normal in a controlled manner.
Typically in a CrossFit box, the WOD ends, everyone lays on the floor for a minute or two, and then cleans up and moves on with their day. I understand that most people have important things to do after their workout and need to move on with their day. Absolutely fine. However, after particularly hard workouts or when you want to optimize your recovery and performance, spend time cooling down.
Now, what does this look like on a tactical level? It is even more simple than foam rolling. Finish your WOD, clean up your equipment (so your coach doesn't hate you) and then get on a bike or rower at your gym, and move very easy for 5-10 minutes. That's it. If you're rowing, keep that damper setting very low, and move nice and easy. You'll feel better, I guarantee.
If this isn't the most over-used, catch-all tip in the health and fitness world, I don't know what is. Here is the reason you hear it all the time: being hydrated is insanely helpful. I know that is simplistic, but getting into the science of why you need to hydrate is an entire post by itself.
Being well-hydrated helps to flush toxins from your system. When you workout, you make micro-tears within your muscles. Part of the process of repair is to flush out the toxins released by this process. Once again, I'm making this simplistic, but in layman's terms, this is what happens.
Additionally, being dehydrated is a great way to ensure that your muscle soreness is through the roof. If you want crazy DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) be sure to skip rehydrating.
While water is a great way to ensure hydration, having some fresh fruit juice or coconut water after you workout is a good option, as well, because these will provide important electrolytes which will rehydrate you much more completely than water. A good check is if your pee is a light-yellow color. More like lemon-lime Gatorade? Get to drinkin'.
You're probably wondering where two of the biggest factors in recovery are: sleep and nutrition. Last week, I went over nutrition in the CrossFit Open in detail, and next week we'll cover sleep. Here is the honest truth, however. If you don't optimize your sleep and nutrition, the impact of the above three tips are going to be significantly reduced.