Being older and out-of-shape, my ability to recover from workouts is pretty important. If I can't train or workout, I can't get in shape, but while I'm training I need to make sure that I'm going hard in order to get my body to change. Training at 25% isn't going to get me anything, I need to be going as close to 100% as possible every time.
In order to help make that happen, I've had to change the way I think. When I was younger, I didn't give a shit and just beat the hell out of my body. Warm-ups? Ha! Stretching? Who has time for that? These days though, that is a recipe for disaster and something that I've had to come to terms with. I'm not 20 anymore and my body doesn't respond like it is, so I need to accept that and figure out how to keep it happy.
So far I've found a few things that have helped, and when I do them consistently, they seem to keep my body from breaking down too much. Nothing here is groundbreaking or new, it is all the same stuff we've always been told to do. The trick is that you have to do it. Frequently :)
First on the list is the muay thai staple of Namman oil. A lot of folks use this stuff pre-training, but I just use it after. My routine is to come home from the gym, shower and then bust out the Namman oil on my lower body. My lower body has suffered the most abuse over the years, so it is typically the area that I need to focus on the most. It might just be the placebo effect, but I've found that my aches and pains go away quicker when I use the oil vs when I don't, so that has been enough for me to make it a constant in my routine.
Next up is the epsom salt baths. Usually at the end of the week I will try and get in an epsom salt soak in the tub. Nothing fancy, just hot/warm water and generic epsom salt. Again, I tend to focus on my lower body for these, but I will submerse my hands, wrists, forearms and elbows in the tub for awhile as well. I will also try and work in a half-ass massage for any problem areas while I'm in the tub. I'll also use this time as a sort of reflection time since it is quiet and free of distractions. Again, is it a placebo? No idea honestly, but it seems to work for me.
The latest addition to my routine has been the foam roller. A ton of people swear by this and you'll probably see most of the hardcore athletes using some type of rolling routine. Lucky for me, my spouse had introduced it to me many years ago so I was already familiar with it and had the roller ready to go, so it was just a matter of identifying what needed rolling. My shins and calf muscles are my number one problem point (outside of my knees), so most of my foam rolling is focused on my legs. I will typically do a quick session on the foam roller before I do anything, and then again after I'm done. I can say, without a doubt, that this process has helped get me back up and going quicker than anything else. I started the foam rolling routine after becoming so frustrated with not being able to get my runs in. My shins were in quite a bit of pain, the kind that you know is not something you just want to push through, from running multiple times a week + training. I knew that this was not sustainable long-term, so something had to be done. I started making it a point to use the foam roller before and after my runs and guess what? Things started getting better! I'm now back to the point where I can get my runs in every week without the crazy discomfort.