Post Workout Recovery. It’s good for you?

Post-Workout Recovery

 

Written by Dr. Hays Estes, Premier Physical Therapy & Sports Performance

CrossFit…it’s a bear (no, not that type of bear). You do all the burpees, and then all the butterfly pull-ups, and then all the snatches, and then all of the abs, too. And THEN while you’re lying on the ground soaked in what you hope is just your sweat, coach yells at you to do a Mobility WOD.  

W.

T.

F.

Stretching? Now? I just did ALL THE THINGS. I feel looser than Ryan’s morals. Do I seriously have to stretch or do a Mobility WOD after crushing my workout? What’s that supposed to do? 

Well, let’s first talk about what stretching or mobility drills do. In the immediate (a.k.a., as soon as you bend over to stretch your hamstrings), stretching invokes the “stretch reflex.” When you stretch a muscle, this sends a signal to your nervous system to actually cause the muscle to contract just before it hits its physiological limit. This means your body is actually trying to protect itself from stretching too far and contracts against the stretch. This especially occurs if you stretch “too far too quickly.” Over time, the receptors in your muscle adjust to the stretch and stop sending signals to your nervous system, which is where we can actually lengthen soft-tissue and why stretches are best held for longer durations.

(Thanks, nerd. Still haven’t told me why I have to stretch or work on mobility after my workout.)

Ok. Fine. I’ll just give you the evidence. And, lucky for you, Ryan isn’t going to like it.

A 2004 study (followed up by a 2021 systematic review) shows that there is no effect on injury prevention with post-exercise stretching. And it won’t reduce your muscle soreness. However, there is some evidence in reduction of acute injury risk if some dynamic stretching is performed before running or sprinting (things all CrossFitters love). 

So basically there’s no evidence to either endorse or discontinue stretching before or after exercise as a means of injury prevention. BUT IF YOU READ MY BLOG POST FROM LAST MONTH, YOU’LL KNOW THAT THE MOBILITY WOD WILL OVER TIME IMPROVE YOUR SCORE ON FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT SCREENS AND THEREFORE LEAD TO A REDUCED CHANCE OF INJURY WITH CROSSFIT, so…sorry, but mobility and/or stretching is still important. It just really doesn’t matter when you do it.

 

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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5341261/?report=reader
http://www.mit.edu/activities/tkd/stretch/stretching_2.html#SEC15
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.677581/full?fbclid=IwAR2k3FE6ZUwkrPc6clrbBBgbUkMjQuia1_Re81qUNh4u-XMA2AaAyHzJcN4
http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.525.2286&rep=rep1&type=pdf
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC119442/
https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/full/10.1139/apnm-2015-0235

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Before you laugh Ryan out of the gym, he’s not completely off-base with telling you to do mobility after your workouts. Stretching does increase blood flow and activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the “rest and digest” part of the nervous system and helps you relax, so there are benefits to stretching after a workout to aid in the psychological recovery of CrossFit.

So what’s the bottom line? You do need to address any mobility limitations you may have, but the timing does not matter. And a proper warm-up using lower resistance and/or bodyweight movements of the main lifts or sport-specific movements you’re about to perform will properly prepare you for that workout and reduce injury risk.

My name is Dr. Hays Estes. I’m the owner of Premier Physical Therapy here in Clearwater. My staff of fellow Doctors of Physical Therapy and I love working with CrossFit athletes and helping them decrease pain and improve performance. You can use your insurance (or we have self-pay options) and you do NOT need a prescription from a medical doctor to see us. If you’d like to die a little less at your next competition, let us help you. 

 

 

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https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpheart.00732.2015
https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.838.3531&rep=rep1&type=pdf
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-018-0958-5

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Amy Bell has always been into sports and fitness all her life, starting soccer at a very young age, playing competitively through high school. Once she started college, being an athlete and staying fit wasn’t really important to her at the time but quickly realized she needed to do something to get her fitness back in check. Her sister participated in CrossFit for over a year before she finally talked Amy into trying it. Once Amy did, she was hooked. She started CrossFit in Georgia as she finished her bachelor’s degree and then moved to Florida. Shortly after her move to Clearwater, planning on testing different gyms in the area, she bought a Groupon for ABF as her first one and stayed, never trying anywhere else.

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Brandi fell in love with all things barbell after watching the CrossFit games in 2012. She hadn’t been into sports or fitness in her younger years, but had been looking for ways to improve her strength and conditioning between a desk job and being a mom. After failing to make much headway in a standard globo-gym, she bought a Groupon for a local CrossFit box and immediately realized there was no turning back. The supportive community and infinite scalability of CrossFit has kept her engaged and coming back for more. Years later, Brandi continues to grow into a well-rounded athlete.

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Fitness has always been a piece of her life, but things didn’t change until she found a Groupon for CrossFit ABF. Andrea gave ABF a chance after years of attending a regular gym that left her wanting more out of fitness. This was the best choice she made as it combines her love of being social with new and old friends and a newfound love of lifting weights and pushing herself to the limits. CrossFit ABF has shown her what a FitFam really means as she looks forward to working out with them every week.

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Amber Krumn, lovingly referred to as “Krumncake,” joined CrossFit ABF (and the overall discipline of CrossFit) in 2017 after she grew tired and bored of the “typical” gym atmosphere. Different from anything she’d done before, she grew to enjoy CrossFit due to its varied workout types. Every day’s workout finally became exciting! An avid runner, Krumncake also fell in love with the sporting aspect of CrossFit. Recently, she’s become more interested in the nutritional aspects of functional fitness and you’ll often find her trying to improve the sport’s various skills, which, in turn, make the sport all the more challenging.

 

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RYAN MCELHANEY

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Ryan McElhaney is a CrossFit Level II Trainer, USAW Level II Coach, CrossFit Gymnastics, and CrossFit Movement and Mobility Certified. He has been an athlete for as long as he can remember. His father built box jumps and agility courses in the backyard rather, than sending him to summer camps. He’s participated in soccer, track & field, cycling, golf, basketball, paddle boarding, 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, and extreme napping.

In February of 2012, he realized that he needed more than what the standard Globo-Gym could offer, so he finally took the advice of a good friend and gave CrossFit a try. He was hooked somewhere between 3-2-1 Go! and the gut-wrenching feeling of never having conquered a workout like this before. Continuously-varied challenging workouts, strong community support, constant improvement, and a proper diet are what fueled his passion to coach and inspire others to share in his success. Two years later he completed the CrossFit Level I Trainer course followed by CrossFit Movement & Mobility.

“I love to coach, it’s the highlight of my day when one of my athletes becomes proficient in a lift or movement and I’m extremely passionate about helping others improve their fitness. I’m also a big fan of any career that promotes flip flops and t-shirts as the standard work uniform… coaching!”

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