My alarm is ringing. It’s 5:30am. As I roll out of bed I feel several dozen muscles throughout my body begin to ache, informing me that they have been worked hard and are in the midst of recovering. This creation and healing of the micro-tears occurs when we exercise. These micro-tears form tiny adhesions called “fascia” that cause the stiffness between our muscles. From years of competing at the highest level in sport, from NCAA Division 1 Basketball to Regional level CrossFit and then becoming a nationally ranked track and field athlete, I know I need to spend time addressing this fascial build up to stay holistically healthy, limber and mobile.
Still half asleep, I head downstairs and roll onto my yoga mat in our living room. The routine is simple, starting on my feet and doing full body roll downs and roll ups – also known as the Sun Salutations for you Yogis out there. Then I transition onto the ground and slowly loosen up my thoracic spin, hips and legs. The yoga mat gives me the reassurance due to the grip it provides my feet. This assurance of grip is critical to help our subconscious mind relax all the muscles in our body and allow the softening and limbering process to go unheeded.
After 10 minutes of slow, intentional movement and breathing, I transition onto one of my foam rollers and meticulously begin rolling on top of each of those aching muscles. I start with my longer foam roller as it is slightly gentler on my muscles and it lets me “explore” all the muscles and fascia through my calves, quads, glutes and all the way up my back to my shoulders. Whenever there are signals of soreness or pain, I make a note to return to these areas. I have come to learn over the years that these signals, albeit painful on the surface, are indicators of where we need to focus our recovery efforts.
Next I transition into using a TriggerPoint Grid Massage Ball. A massage ball lets me hone in on the exact sticking points of the fascia. After finding a spot, I spend 5-10 long deep breaths directly on top of the trigger spot. I highly recommend trying this as what you will notice is a microcosm of our ’fight or flight’ instincts. You’ll get an immediate ceasing and projection instinct of the muscle and then slowly, your brain will start releasing control further forging new length and softness in your body. After only 15 seconds I feel a shift and let out a deep breath and the discomfort and tension magically wash away. After doing several more rounds of this, I feel little to no pain or discomfort. I continue this process until as many “aching” points I have found have been softened and then quieted. The magic comes when I stand up and feeling like a new human – limber, strong and in meditative mindset.
Recovery is one of the most important aspects of my daily ritual. This is because the 30 minutes I spend in my quiet living room, enduring the discomfort required to enable my body to recover, helps it to perform at its best. I will repeat this process three more times throughout the day before and after various training sessions. This one of many unglamorous little things top level athletes do religiously during training to allow them to train and compete at their best, giving them the highest likelihood to have a long and healthy athletic career.
About Tyrell Mara
Tyrell Mara is a former NCAA Division Basketball athlete and nationally ranked Track and Field athlete. To equip individuals to live and perform at their best, Tyrell has founded The Human Performance Project where you can take a free Human Performance inventory and get personalized recommendations. Tyrell leads people and teams as the President of a digital and growth marketing Agency in Vancouver, Digital Hot Sauce.