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

A Crossfit WOD (Workout Of The Day)? It appears most folks need at least 2-3 days of recovery to bounce back from the immune system and nervous system damage that can occur from just one of these hardcore 20-60 minute sessions (although, tragically, many Crossfitters will do back-to-back sessions 5-6 days a week!). Using Heart Rate Variability testing, I’ve found that some people bounce back in as little as a day, and some take several days, so it can vary quite a bit from person to person.

A hike? OK, OK, now we’re getting more reasonable. It really only takes a day or so to bounce back from a reasonable multi-hour afternoon hike, but even a smattering of the recovery tactics you’re about to discover can speed that up and allow you to, for example, go for a hard run the day after a hike—without heavy legs that feel like bricks are attached to the bottom of your shoes.

So, for the human body’s recovery functions such as restoration of white blood cells and red blood cells, to repairing of muscle fibers, to restoration of hormones and neurotransmitters, to repletion of minerals, to a healing of tiny nerves and blood vessels, here’s a full list of tactics you can use to enhance the healing process.

How to Get the Body to Heal Faster

Many of the tactics you’re about to discover may seem fringe or strange, but there’s a definite physiological or biological mechanism via which they work.

Take acupuncture, for example. For over 5,000 years, Eastern medicine practitioners have utilized acupuncture as a method of correcting the body’s flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”) in order to improve health and eliminate disease. While Western medicine practitioners may not agree with the means by which acupuncture works, they are finally recognizing that acupuncture does work for conditions from depression, chronic pain, allergies, and headaches.

There are many theories on how acupuncture works. The ancient Chinese explanation is that acupuncture corrects the flow of Qi, our vital energy or “life force." The Western explanation is that acupuncture stimulates blood flow, the release of endorphins, and other physiological processes that temporarily relieve pain. An acupuncture procedure involves inserting hair-thin needles into certain points along your meridian, the path through which your Qi runs. Needling these points stimulates the body’s own natural healing mechanisms.

I’ll admit that it may seem odd and a bit excessive to include acupuncture as a convenient recovery method, but as a coach and athlete I’ve found the occasional acupuncture session to be incredibly useful for everything from nagging aches and pains to full-blown adrenal fatigue. And it’s not like you have to duck down back alleys to get treatment: You can find licensed acupuncturists operating out of pristine medical clinics throughout the United States through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

OK, OK, so acupuncture is just a single example.

On the second part of this two-part article, I will give you the details of my favorite recovery techniques. 

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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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