Author Archives: JanHendrikHarmse

About JanHendrikHarmse

The world sucks, let's make it better. I want to design beautiful, sustainable solutions that make people’s lives richer, easier and more enjoyable. Bonus points if it puts a smile on people's faces and teaches them a thing or two. I am primarily a Graphic Designer (3 years experience) who's done some web-development projects here and there. I am also qualified to do Industrial Design, UXD and Online Branding. I enjoy making art, participating in sports, spending time with loved ones and learning about anything of interests. I'm a persistent, ambitious, self-starting problem solver with good manners, a calm demeanour and a passion for improvement. I’m good at making mistakes and learning from them. I enjoy conversations and building rapport.

What really works for faster recovery?

I am a very active individual. I do sports (ringball) twice a week, run 5km on weekends and spend every other day either pushing my limits in the gym or playing some casual sport with my friends.

The downside to all this activity is I suffer a muscle and joint pain every day. I’ve decided to do some research on what proven techniques there are for reducing the impact on one’s body and to maximize recovery.

The way I’m going to do this is through reading and referencing 10 online articles that appear on the first page of Google search results on the topic. I will include links below to the individual articles. The numbers in front of the statement indicate which sources agree. If you have any additional sources you know about please let me know and I will add them to my list.

This is just to see what the most popular internet articles regarding this question have to say, comparing the similarities and challenging their claims based on scientific research. The number before each statement represents a source that is listed at the bottom of the article.

Structured rest:

(1) Take a week off every 8-12 weeks of intense exercise.

(5) Take a week off.

(6) Take a day off of exercise every week.

(2) Take a recovery week every 3-5 weeks where you exercise at 50% effort.

(5) Take a recovery week where you exercise at 60-65% effort.

(6) Take an active recovery session once a week.

(7) Take an active recovery session after an intense workout day.

(2) Take 24-72 hours of rest between intense training sessions targeting the same muscle groups.

(3)(4)(10) Take time to rest.

Everyone seems to agree that you need to take time off from your exercise routine every now and then but they can’t seem to decide how long that period should be. The best advice I’ve found is to let your performance be your guide. If your performance is declining, you need more rest.

Enough quality sleep:

(1) Invest in a good mattress and pillow.

(1) Make your environment ideal for sleep.

(2) Get 8 hours of quality sleep.

(4)(8) Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

(6)(9) Get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

(2) Take a 30-minute power nap in the afternoons.

(10) Take a 20-minute power nap during the day.

(5) Take a 15-20 minute nap during the day.

(6) Take afternoon naps.

(3)(10)  Sleep a little longer.

There isn’t consensus on exactly how much sleep an athlete needs but everyone seems to agree that you need at least 7 hours of good quality sleep. Some suggest power naps might be good and they have been shown to include additional benefits beyond muscle recovery. I say if you feel you need a nap during the day go for it. Figure out what amount of time works for you. I don’t do naps because they mess up my hair and 30-minute naps inevitably turn into 2-hour naps.

Drink less alcohol:

(1) The more energy your body spends on processing alcohol the less it uses on muscle recovery.

(6) Overconsumption of alcohol significantly suppresses muscle protein synthesis.

(10) One or two drinks after working out could reduce the body’s ability to recover.

Alcohol has its pros and cons but almost everyone can agree that too much is a bad thing. Don’t get wasted if you fancy yourself an athlete is what I’m saying.

Drink a lot of water:

(1) Drink at least 2 litres of water a day, and even more after vigorous exercise.

(2) Drink at least 3.7 litres (men) or 2.7 litres (woman) of water a day.

(4) Drink at least 1.6l (woman) water per day or 2.5 litres (recommended) after vigorous exercise.

(6) Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day (2l)

(4) Add some sodium to water for exercise sessions longer than an hour.

(3)(5)(10) Drink enough water to replenish fluids.

(8) Drink a couple litres of water or more on days you exercise.

Everyone agrees that water is an important thing you need to drink, but no one seems to know how much is enough. Turns out science doesn’t really know either. Drink when you’re thirsty seems to be the best guideline.


(1) It may help reduce lactic acid build-up and speed up recovery, but it may also limit recovery.

(3)(4) Gentle stretching after a workout.

(7) Stretching after a workout increases the range of motion and circulation.

(7) Hold stretches for at least 15 seconds but less than 2 minutes.

(8) Stretch every day, especially on off days.

(9) Maximizing muscle mobility increases the effectiveness of exercises.

(9) Moderate stretching will reduce cholesterol and significantly reverses hardening of the arteries.

While it is true that stretching certainly makes you more flexible, no solid proof exists that it does anything for recovery. In fact, stretching actually reduces blood flow and studies recommend not stretching after training but warming down with mild exercises. Bottom line: if you want to be more flexible then you should stretch, just not right after your workout.

Ice baths:

(1)(3)(5)(10) Get into a bath filled with ice water. Lots of athletes do it.

(5) Submerge your body for 10 minutes at a time.

(6) Cryotherapy is used as a muscle soreness treatment.

Hot baths:

(4) Take a hot bath drizzled with Epsom salt once a week and after a gruelling sport.

(4) Epsom salts contain magnesium sulphate which is good for recovery.

(6) Thermotherapy using hot baths reduces sore muscles and speeds up recovery.

Ice pack:

(8) An ice pack on a sore muscle for 20 minutes helps recovery.

Hot and cold:

(1) Try a hot shower for 1 minute followed directly by a 30-second cold shower. Rinse and repeat for an unknown amount of time.

(3) Try a hot shower for 2 minutes followed directly by a 30-second cold shower. Rinse and repeat 4 times with a minute of moderate temperatures in between.

Turns out there’s not much proof that any temperature based therapies actually reduce muscle pain or help with recovery. Do them if you like doing them but they’re probably just a waste of time and water.


(1)(3)(6)(8)(10) Get a sports therapy massage once a week.

(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)(10) Massage yourself using a baseball or foam roller.

(5) Lacrosse ball, massaging tools and voodoo bands help recovery.

There is no solid evidence that foam rollers actually speed up recovery but it has been shown to reduce pain levels if done correctly after workouts. Problem is no one knows what constitutes doing foam rolling ‘correctly’. Bottom line: it might work but don’t until there’s more evidence don’t rush out and buy one.

Eat well:

(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(8)(9) Get enough protein into your body, especially right after exercise.

(1)(2)(4) Get enough calories to stay awake.

(2)(3)(5)(9) Get enough complex carbohydrates.

(8) A 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein is ideal.

(8)(10) High protein breakfasts help reduce food cravings.

(1)(5) Avoid strict diets.

(5) Have a balanced diet that gives you all the micronutrients you need.

(6) You need 1.2g-1.6g of protein per kg weight every day, spread out throughout the day.

(6) Eat lots of fruits and vegetables dampening the oxidative stress that comes with exercise.

(9) Consider adding sources of potassium like bananas or potatoes into your diet.

(6) Eat dairy as a bedtime snack, like greek yoghurt and cottage cheese.

(10)  Eat a protein-rich snack before bed.

(9) Eat a high-quality lean protein and complex carbohydrate meal two hours before your training sessions.

(10) Eat a protein snack before working out.

Turns out that athletes only need a small amount of protein more than your average person. The time at which you eat your protein doesn’t make a difference really. Consuming more protein than you need has no positive effects. 1.2g-1.7g of protein per kg of body weight is the maximum amount of protein athletes need, compared to the 0.8g/kg your average person needs. That means you don’t need to go out and buy whey protein. You’re probably getting enough protein in already. Eating more complex carbohydrates is important though, and so is getting a varied diet. Bottom line: eat a wide variety of healthy foods and you will be fine.

Talk to your body:

(1)(3) Use positive self-talk to ask your body politely to recover faster.

Not surprisingly, there isn’t proof that this works.


(3) Meditate for some “mental recovery”.

Studies have shown that meditation may be useful for pain management, but studies are few. If you’re into meditation then do it. It does seem to be of some benefit, just don’t count on it.

Listen to your body:

(1)(3) Drink water when you’re thirsty, eat when you’re hungry, rest when you’re tired etc.

This is good if not a bit too obvious advice.

Avoid overtraining:

(3) Too much exercise without enough recover is bad for you.

(9) Work out hard enough to push your boundaries but not so hard that you destroy yourself entirely.

(1) Have 1-hour workouts every 3 days.

Most agree that a moderate amount of exercise is ideal for people. The best way to go about it is to push yourself so you feel challenged but not so much that you feel defeated. Use your performance: if you’re getting better then you’re probably doing enough. If you’re doing worse, you’re probably doing too much. Err on the side of caution. Rather take it easy and progress slowly than over exert and risk injury.

Take BCAAs:

(5)(9) It helps muscles recover faster.

BCAAs are already in meat and eggs. If you’re getting enough protein you’re most likely getting enough BCAAs. You really don’t need to supplement it.

Take multivitamins:

(5) Take multivitamins to make sure you aren’t missing any essential nutrition you may lack in your diet.

It has been found in almost all studies that multivitamins don’t have any positive impact on people’s health. To be fair in the article this was recommended it was presented as an “insurance plan,” but it’s sort of like insuring your car against meteor strikes. Unnecessary.

Have enough vitamin D:

(6) Not having enough reduces recovery.

Unless you live in a cave or are on a strict vegan diet you don’t need to worry about having too little vitamin D.

Use aspirin:

(8) Use sparingly when bouts of soreness kick in.

While aspirin does reduce pain, it actually makes recovering from exercise more difficult. I do not recommend using aspirin unless it’s only to manage unbearable pain, but in those cases you probably need medical attention and something stronger than aspirin…

Use muscle creams:

(8) Topical creams soothe muscle pain and help in recovery.

There has never been a good study to prove that muscle creams are anything but placebos.

Drink chocolate milk:

(8)(10) Drinking chocolate milk is an effective recovery aid between exhausting bouts.

Chocolate milk seems to be just as good as other commercial recovery drinks. Do with that what you please.

Drink cherry juice:

(8)(10) Cherry juice and supplements may help reduce swelling and aid recovery.

A study showed that study participants reported less muscle soreness compared to a placebo group when they drank cherry juice. The sample size was small so I wouldn’t consider this hard evidence. If you like cherry juice feel free to enjoy it. It’s full of other useful stuff.

Reduce stress:

(9) Chronic stress makes recovery take longer.

Most studies indicate that stress impairs efforts to be physically active. I have had trouble finding scientific consensus that chronic stress has a negative effect on muscle recovery specifically, it does bring with it a whole host of other problems and is best avoided.

Listen to slow-tempo songs:

(10)  It reduces blood pressure and pulse rate quickly after exercise.

Slow tempo music does affect heart rate, but a lower heart rate doesn’t mean faster recovery since it’s taking blood longer to reach the affected areas. It is pretty relaxing though.


Overall it seems that the best thing to do is to live a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy food, sleep enough, and don’t break yourself when you work out, and you’ll recover just as ice-bathing protein shake drinking pill poppers.


  1. Laidler, Scott 2014, How to recover from strenuous exercise, The Telegraph, accessed 20 March 2018, <>
  2. Kawamoto, Jon-Erik (n.d.), The 6 best ways to recover from your workout, Men’s Fitness, accessed 20 March 2018, <>
  3. Quinn, Elizabeth 2017, 10 Tips to speed recovery after exercise, Verywell Fit, accessed 20 March 2018, <>
  4. Ibraheem, Hanna 2018, The best way to recover after intense exercise, Get The Gloss, accessed 20 March 2018, <>
  5. Bevilacque, Anthony (n.d.), 10 best ways to recover after a tough workout, Muscle & Fitness, accessed 20 March 2018, <>
  6. Fetters, K. Aleisha 2016, 10 Ways to boost your post-workout recovery for better results, U.S. News Health, accessed 20 March 2018, <>
  7. Donovan, Skye 2016, The best ways to recover from exercise, U.S. News Health, accessed 20 March 2018, <>
  8. Christ, Scott (n.d.), 12 proven ways to speed up muscle recovery, Lifehack, accessed 20 March 2018, <>
  9. Clark, Shannon 2018, 8 ways to maximize your post-workout recovery,, accessed 20 March 2018, <>
  10. Tao, David 2015, 17 Scientifically proven ways to speed recovery, Greatist, accessed 20 March 2018, <>

How to make bad thoughts work for you.

I’ve struggled with low self-esteem for my entire life. My mistakes felt fatal, my weakness shameful, my sexuality sinful, people’s complements were nothing but white lies and my achievements were only regrets of how I could have done things better. I felt ugly, worthless and undeserving of life. Unsurprisingly, this led to a lot of regret, self-hate and sorrow. One day I had a suicidal thought that was unlike all those I have had before, lacking the two emotions which had kept me alive for so long: fear and shame. The moment those feelings were gone I knew that this wasn’t going to end well. My thoughts had become my enemies and I was fighting for my life.

My enemies had been growing for years however and weren’t going to go down easily. No amount of self-love or critical evaluation was working and they only seemed to become stronger the more I fought them. So I did what I always do when I come up against unbeatable foes: I make friends with them.

I accepted the thoughts, warts and all, even if they didn’t make sense to me. I admitted that I am a failure and that I am a weakling. I am a sinner with have no good qualities, who had done nothing to be proud of. I am ugly. I am worth nothing and I do not deserve to exist.

I treated my thoughts as friends and, as such, tried to get to know them a little better. Turns out, if you’re not in a fight with something you get to see a different side of it. You can discover that your enemies aren’t necessarily ‘evil’. They’re not as harmful as they seem to be and can actually make pretty good friends.

Admitting I am a failure removed the pressure from making mistakes: I’m already a failure so what harm will a few more mistakes make? I get to learn from my mistakes and grow as a person. Most people don’t go for their dreams because they fear failure, as though they’re already at some great height in their life and reaching out will cause a great fall and a fatal injury. As a failure, I’m already on the floor. The worst reaching out will do is make my trip up, and I can just get up and try again, no real harm done.

Admitting that I am weak allows me to take the sting out of the times when my self-discipline failed me. I’m weak anyway so buggering up is to be expected, no big deal. The thing about being weak is you get to become strong. You don’t have to prove you’re invincible. Every failure is part and parcel and every success is something you can be truly proud of.

Admitting that people will see my sexuality as a sin no matter what I do takes the pressure out of trying to convince them it isn’t. Even if it is there’s nothing I can do to change my sexuality so I might as well see what benefits it can bring, and sure enough, there is a lot of pleasure to be had.

Admitting I have no good qualities allows me to be my full self and not care about people’s opinions. ‘Good’ can be a very subjective term. What assassins consider to be ‘good’ qualities are not what nurses deem to be ‘good’ qualities, and who am I to decide who’s ‘right’? I don’t have to prove what a ‘good’ person I am. I do good because it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I’m not afraid to admit my stumbles and flaws, and that authenticity puts people at ease and makes making real friends a hell of a lot easier. I don’t feel the need to defend my honour or pride because there is nothing to defend, so people don’t have the power to insult me.

Admitting I have done nothing to be proud of grants me a great deal of humility. I don’t need to brag because there is nothing to brag about. It also grants me the ability to see the potential in people: my ‘achievements’ are nothing: anyone is capable of doing what I’ve done. It allows me to wonder on amazement at other people’s achievements though because if you don’t have a podium to stand on everyone else looks amazing, and people appreciate it if you find them amazing.

Admitting I am ugly let me realize that the people who manage to love me don’t do so because I’m attractive, but because of who I am as a person, so love isn’t out of reach because I’m not Men’s Health cover-model. My crooked teeth and nose made me resent my face, and now I don’t have that resentment anymore. Knowing I’m ugly allows me to focus my mind on what I am busy with instead of wasting effort on thinking about what I look like at the moment. I also take better care of my skin because if you’re ugly you need to do effort every morning to at least look clean and neat. I can then go about my day confident in that I’m well presented. Also, if you’re ugly and know it then you need to develop your personality and confidence to make up for that, which isn’t a bad thing.

Admitting I am worth nothing prevents me from ever being arrogant. I have skills, sure, but that doesn’t make me special. It keeps me grounded and reminds me that I can be replaced at any time, so I need to work hard to prevent that from happening. Worth is something you prove not something you are. I also have a very hard time looking down on people, because I’m not above anyone. Complements don’t entrap me: I accept them out of politeness but don’t take them to heart, which makes it difficult to woo me with honeyed words.

Admitting I don’t deserve to exist forces me to fight for my life. I am on this planet because my parents made a baby and kept it alive long enough so it can keep itself alive. I don’t deserve special treatment or success just because I’m not dead yet. I need to work at deserving the life I’ve been given. Appreciating things has become so much easier. Every nice thing I get to have and experience is like an undeserved gift I can cherish.
What saved me wasn’t fighting my thoughts, but seeing what good I can conjure from them. It’s obvious that all of these negative thoughts could have spiralled into something terrible, but I was already at the bottom of the barrel so I couldn’t sink any further. The only way to go was up. You may not be able to change your thoughts but you sure can choose where they lead you.

Why is sleep sometimes so scary?

I know I’m alive at this very moment because I am conscious of me living. I know I’m in a room because my brain knows that a room should contain enclosing barriers, so it uses my senses to identify the tall, flat, long and thin structures surrounding me as walls, which were placed there to serve as an enclosure. I know this room is mine because my brain understands the concept of property, and it remembers that I’ve spent a lot of time here, and that my mother told me that it is my property. I identify my current actions as typing because my brain is comparing the similarity of my actions to those I’ve assigned to what can be considered ‘typing’. Therefore, you know where you are and what you are doing because you recognize the fundamentals of it.

If however I am not conscious, I am not aware of my actions nor of my surroundings. When asleep, I am not conscious of the fact that I’m busy sleeping, nor am I aware that I’m not awake. I only know I’m sleeping when I become conscious of it inside a dream, and I only know I’ve been asleep once I regain consciousness and my brain recalls the sensation of awakening. I’m only aware of  my existence once my brain has proven that I am indeed existing.

I consider death to be when you no longer have the ability to prove your existence to yourself. I therefore don’t know I’m not dead unless I prove it to myself.

That is why sleep can be so scary. You step into this void of non-existence until you awaken on the other side. Up until that point you have no way of checking if you’re still a part of the living.

The Anti Poster Project Exhibition at TOW

On the 15th of August 2013, my friends and I attended the opening of “The Anti Poster Project” at The Open Window School of Visual Communication. The idea behind the project is to celebrate talented artists from all around Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town by exhibiting their work, and to “build a network of innovative work among like-minded individuals.” Don’t ask me what “like minded individuals” is supposed to mean, since the posters don’t have common themes: they are as diverse as the places they originated from.

Now to the money: WetINK Design is responsible for the campaign, and is funding all the printing and packaging of the exhibition. When you buy a poster (R200 for an unsigned poster, R300 for a signed poster) the money goes three ways: The artist will get a cut, since, you know, they did all the work; WetINK Design will also get a slice, since they organized the event, and they don’t really sponsor the whole thing. Just because it’s a charity campaign doesn’t mean you can’t cover your costs… right? Lastly, your money will go to a selected and probably very deserving charity organisation. This “phase” of the project, since there are to be many more “phases”, I guess, will donate to the KYP (Kliptown Youth Program) in Soweto.

About KYP: On their website, KYP says their goal is to “eradicate the poverty of mind, body, and soul”, whatever that means. They provide educational support and after school activities to the young-folk of Kliptown, developing the poorness of their minds and bodies, and souls, I guess. “After school activities” contribute to the betterment of the Kliptown community, which I support wholeheartedly, and it keeps them out of trouble.

Also on KYP’s website is the KYP News: “CNN Heroes Computer Lab Opens…” The article below states that in 2012, the organisation received a $50’000 – yes, dollars, translating to R500’000 at the time of writing – grant due to a CNN Heroes award – explaining that silly name – they received in December that same year. The money was thus spent on what I’m guessing is a building with computers in it, and maybe an internet connection. Obviously this charity is in dire need of income, and there isn’t another charity who needs the money more. They do deserve getting rewarded more for their efforts.

Now let’s talk about the night: I was early, as usual, and therefore got the great opportunity to view each piece of art for as long as I pleased without needing to worry about making space for less interested viewers. Not all of the works fit within my poster tastes, but they were all (mostly) exceptional. My two favorite posters, Coffee and Demon, were from the same artist: Joshua Jason Corbett. Later that same night, whilst drawing a skinny winged man with a skull attached to his face (for the “Night of a 1000 Drawings“) I actually met this Joshua Jason Corbett character. He is a white male with curly brown hair (I think), and he was wearing art stained (if you see it you’ll understand) jacket and pants. As far as I could gather from our short conversation he’s a nice, good looking guy, who liked my art.

There was live music in the form of a band who’s name I can’t remember, and free food and booze (yes, you read that correctly). The food was (mostly) great as was the sherry, I’ve heard. Other drinks were available too. After the band finished doing what they were doing, and we uninterested viewers were allowed to have (far more interesting) audible conversations again, we were rewarded with some great music. Later that night we were treated to rhythmic music by two DJ’s who kept my body moving. There was even face painting!

Overall the night was chilled (metaphorically and otherwise) and the company was splendid. Feel free to pop by The Open Window to see the exhibition yourself, just don’t expect free food, that’s for openings only. Oh, and if you have some cash to spend on art, come spend it buying some art, you’ll probably find something you like.

“Thinking Design” – UJ Industrial Design Alumni Exhibition 2013

On 07 August 2013, my colleagues and I attended the opening of the exhibition “Thinking Design” on the University of Johannesburg’s Bunting Road Campus inside the FADA (Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture) Gallery.

The exhibition showcases the works of UJ’s past students who have each become very successful and established designers. The exhibition includes the designs of Jonathan Fundudis and David Holgreaves of “snapp Design“; Trevor Hollard and Rowan Mardghum of “Maeker Products” and “amoq“; and Peter Harrison of “Harrison Designs.” The exhibition is curated by Angus D Campbell, Senior Lecturer of the Department of Industrial Design.

What makes this specific exhibition great is the fact that, not only are the designs of these individuals on display, but their design process too. Each exhibition is thus a journey into the minds of each designer, seeing how they developed their designs from conceptualization to the solution.

The event is on until the 28th of August 2013, so come down to have a good look at what some of South Africa’s design greats have to offer.

Cool Capital Biennale 2014

Yesterday night my friends and I attended a think-tank at The Open Window School of Visual Communication [] with regards to the Cool Capital Biennale 2014 [] exhibition. This initiative is run by citizens, and the organisation is non-governmental, so you should not mistake it as a political campaign.

The idea behind the Cool Capital Biennale 2014 (or CoolCap’14 for the sake of simplicity,) is to make the city of Pretoria/Tshwane a better place. CoolCap’14 aims to do that by implementing many small interventions and helpful contributions within the city, from a variety of people, in the form of helpful designs and artistic expressions. CoolCap’14 also aims to expose the people of Pretoria/Tshwane to the disciplines of art and design. Personally I think it is a great opportunity for artists and designers alike (or creatives as we prefer) to show the validity of art and design as a means to improve this country for the better. CoolCap’14 wants to include as many creatives as possible to contribute in this great effort, so just about anyone is welcome to do just about anything, as long as it is for the benefit of the city, for non-profit, within the city’s borders, and within the limits of the law.

Not a creative? No sweat! You can submit your great idea on their website [] where someone with the time, money and necessary skill(s) can take the idea forward. If however you are a creative, and you wish to better the world with me, submit your project(s) on their official website [] so it can be part of the campaign.

The problem with a major project like this, where you have so many individuals doing so many different things, is how to keep track of it all, and how to communicate its success when it has passed. CoolCap’14 solves that problem by making the entire campaign web-based. That way, anyone with an internet connection can keep track of CoolCap’14’s progress, and have full access to the locations of each intervention, in case they feel like seeing any of them in action. At some point a great catalogue will be compiled and published to showcase the talents and ambitions of those who participated.

CoolCap’14 is scheduled to run from 23 August 2014 to 29 November 2014, the same time as Cape Town’s “2014 World Design Capital” event and Durban’s “Otherwhere 2014” conference of the International Union of Architects. That means we have a year to execute our ideas, arts and designs in order to participate in this glorious event.

The Open Window School of Visual Communication already has a number of concepts that would make the world of difference to the city if they are implemented.

I think this event will forever change the face of Pretoria/Tshwane for the better, and make it an even greater place for all.

Want more info? Check out these info sources:

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