How to Recover Like Wolverine from X-Men: Part 1

In this two-part episode, I’m about to give you the lowdown on just a few of my favorite recovery techniques—thirteen of them in fact.

Ben Greenfield
5-minute read
Episode #336

I was recently splayed out on my bed in a hotel room in Lynwood, WA, my entire body throbbing and aching from having just surged across the finish line of a Spartan Super obstacle race: 9.8 miles of stumbling through Pacific Northwest rainforest while hoisting sandbags, clambering over logs and rocks, swinging from monkey bars, hauling buckets full of weight, crawling through barbwire and high-stepping through mud and bogs.

On my hotel room TV was the first movie I’ve watched in a long time: “Logan”—the icing on the cake of the Marvel Comics “Avengers” Wolverine series—which, of course, features the single most fast-recovering superhero on the face of the planet. And while you certainly can’t expect to get punched ten times in the face by a muscle-bound cyborg and expect your broken and smashed cheekbones and nose to magically regenerate, you certainly can bounce back from many workouts, races, injuries or surgeries far faster than modern sports medicine and orthopedics would have you to believe.

Now, I’ll admit it: I used to be pretty old-school and simple when it came to recovery. A postworkout shake. Maybe a little stretching or time with the foam roller. And if things got really bad, some ice massage or a cold bath.

Not that there’s anything wrong with simplicity. After all, it’s easy to get so carried away with new gadgets, toys, and recovery tools that you forget to take time to enjoy a glass of wine while taking in the sunset at the end of the day.

But I remember when I shared an office with a sports medicine doctor. All day long, marathoners, triathletes, cyclists, and weekend warriors came through the door complaining of chronic aches, pains, and injuries that they’d been fighting for weeks, months, and even years. With just a few of the recovery tips I’m about to share with you, those folks could have easily saved themselves a lot of pain and frustration, not to mention money on doctor’s visits and operations.

So I would be remiss if I didn’t equip you with every possible technique I know to keep your body in pristine shape, especially if you’re laying down some serious damage by being more than a weekend warrior.

In this two-part article, I’m about to give you the lowdown on just a few of my favorite 13 recovery techniques. Yes, I have mentioned some of these suggestions before in previous articles, but here they are all assembled into one mighty resource that will have you bouncing back from muscle and body damage just like Wolverine, or at least far faster than a human body would normally recover.

How Fast Should the Body Recover?

So how fast should you recover from, say, a marathon? Research indicates that the muscle damage from running a marathon can last up to two weeks, and also indicates that soreness is not a good indicator of muscular healing. In other words, just because you aren’t sore anymore doesn’t mean that you are fully healed. This is the danger for marathon runners: post-marathon muscular soreness fades after a few days but submicroscopic damage within the muscle cells remains for at least a couple weeks.

How about an Ironman? Probably because the non-weight bearing nature of cycling and swimming allow for faster recovery from those events, recovery from an Ironman is not much different than recovery from a marathon – anywhere from 8 to 19 days, depending on the athlete and the research you’re looking at.


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.

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