Ready to go next level with your recovery efforts? Recover faster and make sure tomorrow’s practice is even better with these five tools to help swimmers recover quickly.
You showed up early to practice and pushed yourself to the wall with every rep and during every set. You held the breathing patterns, did 10m breakouts on every last wall, and completed the dryland to the final V-sit crunch.
The hard work completed, you go home and await the soreness and fatigue to fully embrace you. You know that your muscles strengthen during the recovery period between swim workouts where they sprint to heal and grow stronger.
But if you want to get the most from each of your swim practices and bounce back faster after those crushing sessions, you need to prioritize recovery between workouts. Your recovery will always start with properly warming down, but there are things you can do outside of the pool to make sure you are
Here are five tools that you can use to speed up the recovery process, decrease soreness, and increase the likelihood that you will be ready to punch tomorrow’s workout in the face:
1. Lacrosse ball.
Foam rollers are big, they are bulky, and they are expensive. They are a pain in the butt to travel with, take up a lot of space, and can only be used on the floor.
To laser-guide your release efforts, use a lacrosse ball, which ranks as my favorite form of massage ball. I have one on my desk at all times so that I can hit my traps while sitting in my chair. Or I will roll out my pec minor. Or even the front of my shoulder if I am feeling particularly rugged that day.
The lacrosse ball is cheap, it’s fully portable, and you can wield it just about anywhere.
2. Foam roller.
Okay, now that I have talked a sizable amount of crap about foam rollers, allow me to mention why my orange TriggerPoint foam roller still figures prominently in my recovery protocol (you do have one…right?). They are awesome for hitting general areas and even help reduce stress and anxiety.
It’s more engaging than stretching and has been shown repeatedly to help decrease soreness with athletes. Perhaps even more important than having less DOMS tomorrow, your performance will drop less than if you weren’t taking care of yourself.
One study took a group of college-aged men and had them do a bunch of heavyish squats. In the resulting days, those who foam rolled after their workout performed better in a couple of different types of jump and endurance tests.
Better performance and less sore? About as good as it gets! (For a more detailed breakdown of the best foam rollers check this guide.)
3. Better sleep.
There is nothing on this planet that will help you become a better swimmer faster than getting more sleep. All those fancy supplements don’t hold a candle to getting more quality time between the sheets.
On top of the fact that sleep is when a bulk of your recovery and rejuvenation happens, sleep deprivation causes a metric ton of problems above and beyond a sluggish recovery: your ability to focus and pay attention plummets, rate of perceived effort goes way up (things feel harder than they should), and you become a level ten cranky-pants.
The first step in fixing anything—whether it is your technique, your nutrition or your sleep—is in having the awareness to know where to start. This is one of the most powerful reasons that you should be tracking and evaluating your workouts; how can you know what to change when you don’t know what you are truly up to in the water?
Improving your sleep means coming to grips with how much you are actually sleeping. Fortunately, there is a wearable for swimmers that can count your strokes and all that fun stuff in the pool, while also providing sleep tracking functions.
It’s also one of the best waterproof fitness trackers for swimming. (Helps that one of the companies who paired up to build it is Speedo.)
It’s the MisFit 2: Swimmer’s edition.
4. Compression pants.
Compression gear has become all the rage in recent years. Basketball players got the ball rolling, and since then you’ve seen this type of garment proliferate across pool decks as well.
Compression gear may look fancy, but its ability to increase athletic performance isn’t for sure. There have been mixed results in studies so far, so the jury is out on whether it helps us lift more and run faster.
Where there is less confusion, however, is in the recovery benefits of wearing compression. The whole point of these tight garments is that by gently squeezing our muscles circulation increases to the targeted area. The added blood flow helps “flush” our muscles of metabolic waste, reducing inflammation and promoting faster recovery.
My favorite maker of compression gear for swimmers is 2XU. In my experience, the leggings last longer than comparable pants from Under Armour and Nike.
For the fellas…
And for the ladies…
5. The MarcPro EMS Machine.
This one is not cheap. At all. It costs around $600, but I can’t imagine my training without one. I have used it for far more than just recovery: you can use the max speed and power functions to fully engage all your short twitch muscle fibers (and experience some next-level soreness as well) and use it for injury management (I’ve used it on tweaked knees and traps more times than I can count to speed up the healing process).
But for now, we are going to talk about the recovery benefits of using an EMS machine. The premise is simple—you attached a set of adhesive pads to your skin, and the MarcPro sends an electric charge into your muscles, stimulating them without stressing them and the central nervous system. It’s essentially an effort-free warm-down.
(If you want to check out more options, here is a breakdown of the best EMS machines I wrote on my general fitness website.)
Although expensive, you can use this bad boy anywhere, anytime. You can use it to flush your legs after a big lifting session. Between sessions at the big meet. Or simply on a Thursday night when you are feeling exhausted from an intense week of training.
More Stuff Like This:
How Much Sleep Should Swimmers Be Getting? The simple act of getting more sleep can have unbelievable dividends on your swimming. Here’s what to consider when plotting out how much rest you need.
The Best Waterproof Heart Rate Monitors for Swimming. Heart rate monitors are not all made equal. Some downright suck, in fact. Here is a breakdown of the best waterproof heart rate monitors to take with you to the pool.