When having a heavy training schedule, as is the nature in MMA, the methods of recovery need to be almost as aggressive as the training itself.
From watching from various training shows that the UFC produce in the build up to big events, I have noticed that the various recovery methods are being highlighted as well as the training. From hyperbaric chambers, to cryotherapy chambers and even some cases of extreme acupuncture.
Although these methods are great tools to have, some MMA athletes don’t have either the resources or the finances to use these recovery methods.
Through the course of training I have experimented and used a variety of different recovery methods. Some of which proved to be more successful than others.
Below are the three most effective methods of recovery that I have found useful.
Recover Method One: Deep belly breathing
I picked this method up from William Wayland from Powering Through; who uses this with a number of his athletes in various levels of MMA.
At the end of a session, particularly if it is of a high intensity, I would simply lay down, close my eyes and begin to breathe very slowing through my nose to filling my diaphragm, and slowly exhale through my mouth. I would be aiming for around 5 seconds inhaling and 5 seconds exhaling and I would continue this for up to 5 minutes. I found this helps get my heart rate down to a more stable state more efficiently. Research also supports that deep belly breathing will trigger the nervous system from a sympathetic dominance to parasympathetic dominance. This in turn will turn the body from a catabolic state to an anabolic at a quicker rate which can only benefit the training sessions that will proceed this.
Self-Myofascial Release (trigger point work/foam rolling)
As much as I would love to get a sports massage each week, my budget does not stretch that far. Instead I use a variety of different trigger point equipment (some of which I made myself) to try and break down any adhesions I have developed from training. I would normally do this as part of my warm up in most sessions but I would also set aside 30mins 1-2 times a week to go more in depth with it and really pin point any particular areas that have developed adhesions. As a warm up I would normally just focus on my legs and my lower back. When I do it as a session in itself, I would start from the bottom of my calf and work my way up to my upper back and anterior deltoids. By doing this I feel a lot looser afterwards and I find my range of movement benefits from this.
DIY Ice Bath
It's no secret that ice baths have a benefit in recovery from a variety of different sports. Knowing this I experimented a year or so ago. After a training session I simply emptied the three bags of ice into my bath and filled it with cold water. Once it was filled I laid I the bath with the ice water just below my chest for around 7 minutes. I found after doing this, it reduced my delayed onset of muscle soreness greatly. I would recommend doing this 1-2 times a week particularly if you have an intense training session in the evening and you know you have another intense session the following morning.
If you can recover more efficiently, this will result in an improvement in performance during training, which will lead to an improvement in competition.