So You WANT to RECOVER Part 2: What things can be done to you

Did you miss part 1? Catch up HERE.

In my effort to recover better, faster, and be the strongest version of myself I also tried different passive recovery techniques. In part two I will discuss three techniques I tried and used for the 6 weeks leading into Raw Nationals: cryotherapy, massage, and Normatec Recovery boots. This discussion will take place from my subjective point of view along with some science spouted by each of these respective methods.


Proposed Benefits: Pain relief and muscle healing, reduced inflammation, weight loss, improves immune function, improved skin conditions, and improved sleep.

What is it? Cryotherapy is a cold therapy that exposes you to sub zero(brrr) temperatures for 3 minutes.

What happens? Make sure to show up with skin that is dry and free of lotion. Be sure to remove all metal jewelry from your body. When you get there you will be shown a changing room in which you will undress to the degree of your comfort and then put on a robe. You will also put on socks and special shoes that resemble water shoes, as well as, gloves. When you are ready you will go inside of the chamber where you will remove your robe and the 3 minute process will start. Temperatures will get anywhere from -150 to -300 degrees fahrenheit.

My Experience: I was so nervous for my first session. I thought I wouldn’t be able to take the three minutes, I hate being cold! To be honest, it is cold but not unbearable. My best advice is to do a little jig within the chamber and talk to the person who runs your session as the 3 minutes will pass much faster!

My Results: When doing the first session, I definitely noticed an endorphin rush after. I felt like I had a “runner’s high.” As I started to do the sessions regularly (3x/week for 3 weeks, then 2x) I noticed my body was not fatigued or sore after heavy sessions. I also noticed my skin was a lot more clear. I was also trying other things for recovery but I think the regular cryotherapy had the biggest benefit on me, personally. I have not done it since my meet, and my old aches and pains are back, my skin still breaks out like it normally does as well as the occasional eczema.  If it was less expensive I would continue cryotherapy throughout the year but will definitely do it during my peaking blocks before meets.


Interested? If your north of Boston, I  went to Pyara Spa . They offer a first visit special!

Sports Massage/Cupping Massage.

Proposed Benefits: Improving blood flow and circulation allowing nutrient rich blood to be brought to tissues and promotes the removal of waste products. This increased blood flow should relax muscle tension and decrease muscle soreness.

What is it? Sports Massage is a deep tissue massage that is not always comfortable and should be tailored to each individual. There also may be stretches involved. You may be sore after the massage. Cupping massage is the use of silicon cups during the massage that promotes relaxation, blood flow, and helps to reduce pain and inflammation.

What to expect: You will have a pre-consultation with your massage therapist. This is your opportunity to be as specific as possible for what you are looking to get out of your massage. After this your therapist will leave the room allowing you to undress to your level of comfort. The massage therapist will come back in and get to work. Do not be shy to ask for more or less/more pressure, or for the therapist to keep the focus in a certain area.

My results: My “tight” areas have been the same since I can remember, even before I started lifting heavier and more regularly. My traps and in between my shoulder blades as well as my glutes. I found a fabulous massage therapist (get recommendations in your area! Try more than one! If you're north of Boston, I have A GREAT ONE!) who I asked to just focus on these two areas. She incorporated silicon cups as well into my massages to help reduce healing time of the tissues post massage. This allowed me to go for shorter, more frequent massages. Over the 6 weeks I absolutely felt a difference in my upper back and glutes. Post meet I have been back for a couple massage over the past 12 weeks. My upper back is pretty tight. I know massages are not fixing the issue which after much thought about my upper back think has to do with my sleep. I have been trying to fall asleep in a straighter position to relieve some of this tension. As long as I stay consistent with giving my hips some love, they are okay. They are my weakness, I am sure to spend a bit of extra time focusing on this area.

Interested? You know that great recommendation I have, her name is Britt Joyce ! She also has a first visit special, let me know you are going and I can send you the discount!

Normatec Recovery Boots.

Proposed Benefits:

What is it? The recovery system increases circulation throughout the body to help you recover faster. Helps reduce the inflammation and accumulation of water, decrease lactic acid and lymph fluids in the body part being compressed.

What to expect: You will put your legs inside of the “boots” and then they will be zippered. The boot goes from your feet all the way up to your hips. The system has 5 zones and 7 levels. The higher the level the higher the pressure will go within the boots during your session. The boot then starts by “mapping” your leg to determine how big it is and how much the boot needs to inflate. The pulse pattern will then increase press in two zones and hold it while a third zone pulses. This pattern will then move up your leg. This will repeat throughout the session.

My Results: I enjoyed these sessions, there was something very relaxing about them. Between the sound of the machine and the pressure feeling on my tired legs that felt amazing. I tend to get “swollen legs” by the end of the day and this definitely happened less. Again, it is hard to tell whether this specifically help as I was incorporating other strategies as well but it felt good! My legs truly always felt fresh and ready to go for my next lower body day. I have not done any sessions after my meet but would do it again while peaking.

In Conclusion: I think like most things, these three recovery strategies work best when done regularly. If there is any underlying issue or problem I do not think they will fix it but will provide relief. If there is an underlying issue sometimes relief is all you need  when you are in the bulk of your training. As training got shorter it definitely helped me to focus my energies on recovery methods both things you can do for you(part 1 ), and things that are done to you!


What recovery strategies do you use? Will you try any of these strategies?

Meghan Scanlon