Gone are the days when bragging about how many consecutive training sessions you’ve notched was proof of your Spartan-level dedication to fitness. Smart athletes know that taking the time to rest and recover helps them push past plateaus and prevent injury, which is why when the team behind Brooklyn Boulders open their new 9,000 square-foot BKBX adventure fitness studio in Allston later this winter it’ll include a state-of-the-art recovery studio.
BKBX members and other clients alike will be able to drop into the studio, with its custom lounge chairs, treatment tables and yoga mat floor, and consult with coaches and treat their tired muscles to both complimentary services and premium services and devices for an added cost. The Batcave arsenal of tools ranging from percussive massagers to 3D mobility assessments all focus on combating inflammation—the real reason behind your screaming muscles the day after a body-torching workout.
“What causes muscle soreness is creatine phosphokinase enzymes that are embedded in the muscles, and that causes inflammation,” says Dr. Paul Juris, director of fitness programming and education, who taps his degrees in human movement studies, exercise science and motor learning to design programming at BKBX. “Inflammation is the cause of most problems—from arthritis to auto-immune problems. The recovery tools we have here are all designed to reduce inflammation and to improve cell respiration and cell function.”
From heat therapy to feeling frosty in a cryo chamber, we asked Dr. Juris for his recovery tips that’ll sock it to your sore spots and have you training smarter.
Dr. Juris recommends sweating it out in the recovery studio’s infrared sauna to relax your sore muscles. “A regular traditional Scandinavian sauna is just pure dry heat. It’s good—there are a lot of benefits to heat—but it doesn’t penetrate very far,” he says. “The frequency of the far-infrared sauna vibrates the cell membranes and allows the heat to penetrate up to four millimeters deeper into the tissues. You get better heat penetration and greater better benefits. This has been shown to actually help reduce inflammation in overworked muscles.” He recommends a combo of 15 minutes in the sauna and then lying under warm blankets or towels for 30 minutes. “This gives you immense relief from overuse, fatigue, and over-exertion.”
Infrared sauna sessions: Complimentary.
On the flip side, Dr. Juris advises that extreme cold reduces muscle soreness and assists with inflammatory joint diseases. The recovery studio’s cryotherapy chamber—which looks like a mini spaceship powered by liquid nitrogen—invites aspiring snowmen to shrug into a robe, socks, booties and gloves and stand and slowly rotate in a fog of frigid air. For beginners, he recommends starting at a setting of -100° F—just slightly colder than an exposed T platform in January—for two minutes, while pros can crank the chill factor to -140° F and work towards a limit of three minutes.
“Exposing your body to this super-frigid temperature causes it to pull all the blood towards the core,” Dr. Juris says. “Then the body recirculates the blood and that recirculation is what actually improves tissue tolerance and helps to reduce inflammation.” While you’re rotating in this anti-rotisserie, do you feel the cold? Uh, obviously. But the kind of clear-headed adrenaline booster-shot afterwards is worth a few minutes of discomfort.
Cryotherapy sessions: Members, $40 per 10-minute session (includes pre- and post-service preparation; actual time in the chamber not to exceed 3 minutes). Non-member pricing to be released.
Everyone’s seen foam rollers at the gym, but the rollers at BKBX’s recovery studio pack an extra kick: vibration. Along with the blaster-looking Hypervolt targeted massage devices from the brand Hyperice, Vyper vibrating foam rollers trick your tendons into giving you a break. “Foam rollers are common for myofascial treatment,” Dr. Juris says. “You’re just rolling over the fascia to try to get it to loosen up. So vibration is a really interesting thing—and actually when you vibrate the roller at a very high frequency it’s less jarring. What’s happening here is that you’re tricking your nervous system. When the tendons are vibrated there are sensors in the tendon and it makes your brain think that these tendons are being pulled on. And so then in response your brain tells that muscle to relax. So it’s a stretching and relaxation technique called post-vibratory response.
Hyperice Vyper and Hypervolt device sessions: Members, $25 per 25-minute session. Non-member pricing to be released.
BKBX, 211 Western Ave., Allston (857-445-4944) bkbx.fit.