Recovery Lounges: The Ultimate Recovery Experience

In order to recover properly and progress your training, you need more than just rest.

As I approach 40+ status, recovery becomes more important each year. Sometimes I wonder if I’d feel better now if I’d given proper attention to recovery in my younger years. But at this point it is what it is, and I now understand making time for recovery is as important as setting my alarm for the gym.

While many of us are familiar with the basic concepts of recovery, some of us (myself included) are not always the best at knowing how to obtain it. You’ll often see catch phrases on the Internet like rest, active recovery such as yoga or Pilates, mobility, hot baths, compression, cold baths, and massage. And people will tell you to incorporate some or all of these methods.

Sounds complicated, right? It doesn’t need to be if you’re lucky enough to have a recovery lounge in your area.

Recovery Lounge Concepts

No, a recovery lounge is not where you go after a night of drinking. It is a place where athletes can receive some of the aforementioned recovery services, particularly contrast baths, massage, sometimes yoga or spin classes, and guidance on mobility and stretching.

Contrast baths and saunas support recovery and preventive therapy.

The idea of the recovery lounge is becoming popular across the country. If you type “recovery lounge” into Google, you mainly get ads for chair upholstery, but there are some hits for the type of lounge I’m talking about. I have a feeling these hits wouldn’t have come up ten years ago.

I found a couple experts who were able to explain how recovery lounges work and what benefits they provide for athletes.

The Benefits of Organized Recovery

When it comes to recovery for the average person, many of us have no clue where to start. That’s where someone like Renee Baillie comes in. Renee is a professional runner. Her marathon debut was at the Chicago Marathon in 2012, where she finished in 2:27:17 – the third fastest American debut. Most impressively, Renee holds a seventh place rank on the all-time Fastest American Marathoners list. This lady is fast, and she also knows what it’s like to have injuries and need some serious recovery.

“The athletes living at the training center had access to ‘an incredible array of equipment allowing them to train harder and be healthier by recovering faster.'”

Renee joked with me that her Achilles tendon was “…literally my Achilles heel for much of my early professional running career” from 2005 through 2010. In 2011, Renee underwent intensive Achilles surgery as a last-ditch effort to continue her running career. For her rehab post-surgery, Renee moved into the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. After the rehab she underwent at the training center, she made that impressive Chicago Marathon debut.

How does someone recover to come back from such an intense surgery? Well, Renee said the athletes living at the training center had access to “an incredible array of equipment allowing them to train harder and be healthier by recovering faster.”

Recovery and Preventive Therapy

Renee’s mission has now become to “spread the importance of recovery and preventive therapy.” She does so alongside her husband, Austin Bailee. Together the couple co-founded Recharge, a recovery lounge located in Bend, Oregon. Renee’s passion for fitness, people, and recovery is apparent and informed by her personal recovery experience.

Renee said the research that goes into creating a recovery lounge is extensive. At Recharge they continually look at the latest recovery methods to share with their clientele, as opposed to “hearsay or what is ‘hot’ right now.” She emphasized, “It is the combination of recovery tools that furthers the treatment session to get the most efficacy.”

 “Anyone who has had pain or injury should consider seeking help through recovery.”

Renee also shared one of their biggest challenges: convincing the public this type of recovery environment isn’t just for high-level athletes. She encourages anyone who has had pain or injury to consider seeking help through recovery. The NormaTec compression system is their most popular form of recovery. Andrew Read, one of Breaking Muscle’s coaches, has been known to use a NormaTec system for his own recovery and reports excellent results. Recharge also offers cold and hot contrast baths. Renee says the baths work to “further move blood and increase the elasticity of the blood vessels.”

The Ultimate Recovery

Cherie Touchette, an eleven-time Ironman competitor (that’s right, I said eleven) would know a thing or two about what does and does not work for recovery. Six of her Ironman appearances were at the National Championship level, and she knows what it is like to push her body in training for those intense events. Among Cherie’s list of other impressive qualifications is a MA in Exercise Physiology from San Diego State University.

Cherie discovered recovery lounges after she won her age group at an Ironman in Canada. Then she had to turn around and recover in seven weeks to race her best at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. With a smile, she refers to this as her “Ironman Double.”

View of recovery lounge setting

Through the use of a recovery lounge, optimal recovery can be reached.

During the weeks between those events, Cherie employed compression and other recovery techniques while continuing with her training. She also reported that through the use of a recovery lounge she was fully recovered – at least as much as she could be with her regular work as a trainer and mother of three kids. She emphasized the importance of using a variety of tools to aid recovery. “Recovery is a huge part of training, racing, and becoming a better athlete, and there are many things you can do besides rest to help with recovery.”

A One-Stop Shop

Cherie and Renee agreed that one of the main benefits of a recovery lounge is having everything in one place. Cherie sees people overcome injury and soreness each day through the use of compression in particular. The recovery elements in this type of lounge environment are something anyone can use. On a daily basis you see everyone from athletes to regular exercisers soothing bothersome aches, healing pains, and overcoming the challenges of an active lifestyle. The use of good recovery methods can also prevent injury. If you’re moving well, you’re less likely to become injured in the first place.

For those of us who don’t live in an area with a readily available recovery lounge, Renee says it is crucial to find methods that increase circulation and allow the circulatory and lymphatic systems to do their job. She added that finding a physical therapist or recovery specialist who takes the time to learn your history is the safest way to go, so find a professional to assess your needs before setting out on a pre-designated recovery plan.

Renee’s final words stuck with me and echo what many of us are discovering only now, after dealing with injury and the challenges it presents:

“As an athlete who was told to retire before Achilles surgery, that I wasn’t built to run, and that I wasn’t good enough, it is important to me to empower others to pursue their passions or dreams, no matter what. To do what they love for the rest of their life.”

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Photos courtesy of Recharge.