The Recovery Trifecta 750 1334 Stephanie Thompson

What’s the simplest way to ensure recovery from training is a priority? The Recovery Trifecta!

Think of the recovery trifecta as a puzzle with “three” pieces.

Every morning you start with the puzzle in pieces, & then you spend parts of your day putting the puzzle together. At the end of the day you should have your recovery puzzle completed!

A common mistake is to focus on one or two of the above components, leaving one to the back burner —& yourself wondering why you can’t seem to get fitter, why you are susceptible to injury, & why you struggle to maximize your energy & performance.

The Recovery Trifecta is made of the following 3 focuses:

#1. Sleep,
#2. Nutrition,
#3. Soft-Tissue Work,

Puzzle Piece #1. Sleep

The linchpin of recovery & maximizing performance is getting adequate, quality sleep.
Unfortunately, it is often the first piece of the puzzle to be neglected over other aspects of life.
It also acts as an excellent barometer for allostatic load (basically the level of physical, emotional, etc. stress that your body & nervous system is under).

Have trouble sleeping or always tired no matter how much sleep you get? —your stress systems might be overloaded.

If you have the time for sleep, but struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up throughout the night you may not be getting enough high quality sleep.
I can talk for hours on sleep hygiene, but I won’t. Most of us know we need more sleep – you don’t need me to remind you. Do a quick search on the inter-webs & you’ll find hours of content on why sleep is important & how to get more/better sleep.

I’m a big fan of taking ownership of your daily habits & routines

—& implementing these changes SLOWLY because, I get ya! Going from 4 hours to 9 hours is super unrealistic. So if you get 15-30 min extra sleep every day or even every week you’re on your way to improving your performance!

My personal sleep hacks include:

  • Consistently following a pre-sleep routine,
  • Avoid caffeine after noon,
  • Limit alcohol & big meals before bed,
  • Sip on chamomile tea, or reishi hot chocolate 1 hour pre-bed (yum @foursigmstic and @organikahealthhot chocolate ),
  • Check-off the day’s to-do list, & create tomorrow’s to-do list,
  • Spend the final 20 minutes before bed away from electronics; reading, stretching, mobility work, hanging out with family,
  • Sometimes I turn on  a @headspacebedtime meditation or listen to a sleep story if my brain is too active.

Puzzle piece #2. Nutrition

In general, these are my top 3 rules for managing your nutrition as a human being (not just for ‘athletes’):

Rule 1 –eat enough (of good quality food),

Rule 2 –get the bulk of your carbohydrates immediately following training,

Rule 3 –& drink lots of water.

Rule #1.  –eat enough (of good quality food):

The Canada’s Food Guide 2019 is a great resource for learning how to make quality food choices.

These recommendation include (but are not limited to):

  • eat plenty of fruits & vegetables,
  • eat protein foods (both animal & vegetable proteins are sufficient),
  • choose whole grain foods,
  • & make water your drink of choice.

It’s that simple!

I get asked quite regularly about diet & nutrition. Although it is within my scope of practice to assist you in making general healthy nutrition choices, a specific question about you & your diet should be directed towards a Registered Dietitian (RD). – They are the regulated health professional with the specific education & experience to best help you with your nutrition needs!

If you have questions such as:
“should I use supplements?”,
“how many grams of carbs & proteins should I get post exercise?”,
Or, “should I try the keto diet?”.

I always come back to the question of:
“how is your lifestyle & diet overall?”.

If you are struggling to lose weight or gain muscle, notice peaks & valleys in your energy levels, or just feel that you need to take better charge of your nutrition, know that nailing the quality of food, your hydration & your sleep are number one.

If you are looking for a pre-workout because you feel tired pre-game, let’s take a peak at your nutrition choices & your sleep first.

Rule #2. –getting the bulk of your carbohydrates immediately following training.

First, a carbohydrate is any food source that provides energy in the form of C6H12O6 —sugar (in it’s various forms).

So, your typical “carbs” like pasta, bread, junk food, candy, etc. are carbohydrates.
But, so are fruits, vegetables, &, beans!  Both are great! Again, stick to high quality food sources over packaged & high processed.

So, you worked out, or played a game, now what should you eat?

In general, your overall diet matters the most.

But, you can take advantage of the window post-workout to re-supply your muscles & brain with the energy (sugars) it requires for your next practice, game or workout.

Did you know that as a skip you require a similar amount of “sugar” post game as your sweepers?
You might not be fatiguing your body, but the primary fuel source for the brain is sugar!

Some great options post-physical activity include:

  • fruit & granola,
  • veggies & hummus,
  • PB & J sandwich,
  • chocolate milk,
  • smoothie, (see @mkdietitian recent post),

You’ll notice that I like to couple a protein & fat with my carbohydrates. This helps to slow down digestion —allowing slower absorption of carbs into muscles & blood stream, as well as keeping me satisfied (feeling fuller) longer.

Rule # 3 — drink lots of water.

I don’t need to say much else other than:


Stop, repeat that again.

Our bodies are about 70% water.  If we are slightly dehydrated, it affects most all of the functions in the body; mentally, physically, emotionally, etc.
Coffee, tea, sports drinks, milk, & alcoholic beverages can all have a place in your diet & lifestyle, BUT plain old simple water is irreplaceable.

Think about how a plant responds to water after it’s been neglected for a few days.

It’s leaves perk up, it’s colour returns, & I’m sure it’s mental state is much more positive in comparison to it’s near death-by-dehydration experience.

The same happens for us as humans.

If you notice your energy levels dwindling, or your focus wavering, check in & see when the last time you had a cup of just plain water was. —Perhaps you are dehydrated?

I’ll admit, it’s hard to remember to drink water during a curling game because we don’t sweat the same as we do on a hot summer day.
Let me promise you that you are sweating; it’s just freezing or drying up before it ends up on your body or clothes. We also exhale water in our breath, so staying hydrated as a sweeper is super important.

My 2 top tips for you on water are these:

  1. Make a small cup of water the first & last thing you drink every single day. Adding just 2 small cups total into your daily intake can affect your life immensely. (My go-to AM drink is water + pinch pink salt + squeeze lime Link to Charles Poliquin article )
  2. Bring a water bottle out with you for every game and practice, and promise yourself to finish it by the end of your game (especially a 2+hour game -that’s a long time!). Take a sip every 15 minutes (that’s between every end -at it into your game routine!) & notice the affects on your performance.

Puzzle Piece #3. SOFT-TISSUE WORK

The term ‘soft-tissue’ refers to the soft materials of your body’s musculoskeletal system (muscles, fascia, tendons & ligaments).
Examples of soft tissue work include massage, trigger point & myofascial release.
But, I’ve extended that definition from a recovery standpoint to include activities that increase blood flow to an area, & manage the nervous system.

The goal in season is to win games.

To do this as a healthy athlete we must take into account that some parts of our body (especially in curling) will be overused & some will be underused.
Our body works best in homeostasis so we want to do all we can to activate or relax those areas that are too far in one direction.

I do this by programming & scheduling:

  • Recovery walks,
  • Recovery workouts,
  • Mobility work,
  • As well as some hands on soft tissue work; either done by a regulated health professional such as an RMT, Kin, Chiro, Physio, AT, Osteopath, etc., or done by yourself such as foam rolling, trigger point, graston, epson salt baths, etc.

I don’t have the space or specific research to tell you exactly what the perfect answer to your individual soft tissue needs are; but please make sure that who you are working with or learning from is well qualified, & can justify using certain modalities.

I personally see an RMT, & have been guided in how to specifically use trigger point on my own to manage the common areas he works on.

I have noticed the best results from a subjective standpoint when I combine:

  • some form of easy cardio to increase blood flow & refresh the mind,
  • With trigger point,
  • & some simple band/body weight work to balance out the body.

A common mistake

is to focus on one or two of the above components, leaving one to the back burner.

For proper recovery all three components of the trifecta (especially sleep) need to be utilized regularly.

So what does a perfect “recovery focused day” look like to you?

My typical day includes:

In the morning:

  • salt, lime water,
  • mobility & stretching,
  • meditation & journalling

Throughout the day:

  • Lots of fruits, veggies, protein & water,
  • A workout, walk or Joga class,

In the evening/prep for bed:

  • Trigger point or legs up the wall,
  • Organika reishi hot chocolate,
  • 20 minutes of reading (no electronics!)
  • 7-9 hours of sleep

My question for you now is,

What can you focus on today to make you 5% better at taking responsibility for your own recovery?

If you liked this post, share it with a friend!

If you have a question, send me an email!

If you want more, follow along on Instagram & youtube!

Have a fantastic day!!!

Providing tools & education to move better & improve performance. Proudly Canadian.

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