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Paddle Healthy | Best Tips For Rest and Recovery

Just take a look at shelves full of pre-workout supplements at your local GNC and you can see that people are paying lots of attention to preparing for exercise (even if many of these products are nutritionally suspect). While many waterman and women still need to enhance their warmup, coaches and trainers are getting better at having their athletes prepare for SUP sessions and land-based workouts.

Yet, very few of us are dedicating the same amount of headspace to what we do after getting off the water. If you go out and paddle hard, then just stop, you are short-circuiting conditioning and strength gains, compounding movement issues and preventing your body from optimally restoring and repairing itself. We recently shared some tips for cooling down and mobilizing after training and racing, which should be your first step in improving recovery. We also dropped some knowledge on rehydration and refueling. But what should you do after the acute recovery phase is over? Here are a few tips you probably haven’t heard yet:

1) Switch Off Those Screens & Beware of LEDs

We stare at our phone and tablet screens all day, so why on Earth do we do more of the same when trying to recover at night? The blue light from mobile devices, TVs, etc. inhibits good quality sleep by messing with melatonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for making us drowsy. However, screen exposure tells the brain to stay awake and that it’s not time for the rush of melatonin needed to sleep.

It's not just technological devices that can hamper rest and recovery. Recent research suggests that LED lights also put out a high amount of disruptive blue rays. Try switching out those LED bulbs for non-LEDs that offer a warmer, colored glow, like orange. It could make a big difference in your sleep cycles.

2) Chill with Some Cold Water

It always feels horrible when you rinse off in icy water under the beach shower, right? Nevertheless, once you get over the early discomfort you feel refreshed. While it is good to spend a few seconds in this way, you can gain greater benefits by getting into an ice bath or cold shower for a longer period. Exposure to cold water resets your nervous system, helping you get out of the sympathetic "fight or flight" state and into parasympathetic recovery.

Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine also found that spending at least two minutes in cold water triggers from the brain's "blue spot" (locus coeruleus) to release noradrenaline, which counteracts the effects of depression. Chilly baths and showers may also boost testosterone production, which is crucial for muscle repair and growth. Of course, if you want to be like Laird, then you can cycle heat (steam sauna or a hot bath) with cold (ice bath, cold shower) to dial recovery up a notch.

3) Sleep in a Cool, Dark Room

There is nothing better than getting under a nice warm duvet, is there? Well, it turns out that yes, there actually is. That something is sleeping under lighter covers in a cool room that's between 60 and 67 degrees. Sleeping in a chilly environment boosts metabolic function, leading to better fat utilization and increased calorie burning at rest and the next day. Plus it lowers cortisol, the stress hormone that keeps you in a constant state of high arousal and encourages fat storage and stress-related illness. Slumbering in a cool room also reduces the risk of diabetes, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

In addition to being cool, your sleep space should be dark. As previously discussed, light exposure decreases melatonin production and alters sleep cycles, so you need to eliminate it. Keep tech devices out of your bedroom, get some blackout curtains and consider using a sleep mask. Your zzzs will thank you.

More tips from Paddle Healthy.