Morning workout: Just jog for a minute for a warmup and get going.
Lunch run: Don’t bother warming up, I’ll do it on the trail.
Race Day: Jog around and jump a few times.
Post-race: Eh, put on some Marena Sport leggings and walk around.
There you go. What you just read has literally been the extent of my preparation and recovery for Obstacle Course Racing for the past five years. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short sprint style race or a Beast/Ultra Beast weekend combined. I’ve never done any of the typical recovery you hear. I don’t stretch, I don’t roll anything out, I don’t cooldown run, I’ve never gotten a massage, et al. Then my friend Spencer texts me and asks if I want to check out this new recovery clinic he recently started working for in Austin. I figure, why the hell not. Cut to: Stretch Base / Restore Cryotherapy
Round One: Massage and Stretch
One thing to know about me is that I am VERY skeptical of recovery treatments and claims. For fun, I read scientific journals and enjoy science communication to help remove misinformation and false claims. I’m the personification of “Prove your claim or get out.” Walking into “Stretch Base – Restore Cryotherapy” I came with an open mind while still ready to poke holes in some pseudoscience.
After a standard sign-in process we went over for a half hour massage and stretching session. The first thing done was using a HyperVolt massage gun from Hyper Ice. It felt great, and then the pain set in when we got to my calves. This is why I never foam rolled. I already race; I have already gotten my fill of elective self-harm. I can assume this is sort of like getting a sports massage, but I wouldn't know since I've never gotten one before. Once this first round was complete, I was already overall feeling pretty good.
Once the calf torture finished on each leg, we moved on to stretching and mobility for my legs and hips. I’ll fully admit my mobility has suffered. I’ve been adding in some full drop heel sits in just to help improve a little, but it’s not a huge difference. During this session, the range of motion on my legs and hips damn near doubled from before we began. Through the entire massage and stretching session, it was being explained to me what was happening, why it was being done and what the results I would be able to feel are. Everything was on point. I think Spencer already knew I would probably claim some hocus pocus on some things and he cut me off at the pass. OK.
Round Two: Compression
Once the massage was over, we went to the long lounge couch where Shark Week was playing. I was informed I would be wearing the legendary Normatec Boots.
Gather ‘round children, while I reveal to you the legend of Normatec. Some say wearing thigh high boots that make you look like an S&M variant of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is great for recovery. They say the boots are far better than just wearing compression.
I’m told how the boots work, how they spread their compression to work the crap out of your legs to recover. Think of this-this way, instead of just putting a compression legging on which puts the same amount of pressure on your whole leg, its squeezes and “rolls” compression up your leg. I want you to think that the bottom of your feet is the end of a roll of toothpaste. Roll up the end of the tube to get the last bits out. That’s what it does to your legs to get the lactic acid and broken-down tissues out. After 30-ish minutes of rolling leg compression and watching people chum the waters to get Tiger Sharks to come to play, I can safely say that my legs already feel like new.
Round Three: Cryotherapy
I hate the cold. I mean, I REALLY hate it. I can deal with the cold in races. That doesn’t bother me. Adrenaline and running right after freezing swims and dunk walls warm me back up in no time. But this… Am I just supposed to stand there and freeze? What is wrong with you people!? I step into the chamber, ready to awaken in a thousand years to work for Planet Express, and we begin the process. For those of you who have also never done this before, the process is – stand still and get cold. Get really, really cold. I lasted about two and a half minutes which I was told was pretty good on my first treatment. My skin temperature dropped down to 72 degrees. That kind of cold kicked my body into overdrive. Just a minute after getting out and I was already feeling better. By better, I mean energized. It’s hard to describe, but it is best illustrated by this guy eating a Nutri Grain Bar.
Through my time at Stretch Base – Restore Cryotherapy the entirety of the staff was fun to interact with and were all interested in how I was feeling. The focus from everyone was on my comfort and making sure I was getting the most of out my time with them.
I left their location feeling physically better than I have in memory. I didn’t say recent memory. I said, memory!
I can’t remember a time since I started OCR that my body felt this good and ready to tackle anything. As stated earlier, through every portion I was trying to think of ways that this is just placebo and it can’t be that good. At the end of each round, I had realized everything they said I was going to feel during and after were spot on. There were no lofty promises; there were only direct cause and effects that were to the point and accurate. This was a great experience, I now know what I’ve been missing these past few years. If you have been skeptical like me or you are already familiar with this kind of recovery, find a Stretch Base – Restore Cryotherapy in your area and give it a go.