It is the most neglected aspect of fitness and the leading cause for overuse injuries and exercise exhaustion. Most of the health benefits of exercise happen during your recovery period and sleep. If you think about it, exercise is actually controlled trauma to the body in order to create a specific response in the tissues. The body adapts and gets stronger by repairing the microscopic tears in the muscle fibres. Although it is common to feel sore after a heavy workout, prolonged muscular pain can sap away your motivation. It is one of the common reasons for exercise dropouts and lack of continuity. Doing nothing might seem a good idea after a well – earned workout, but there are better methods to control the pain and to reduce the inflammation.
Get back to your training quicker and stronger with these post workout recovery strategies.
Post work-out Nutrition
Have a protein snack or low sugar recovery drink within 30 minutes after an intense workout. This is the optimal time period for glycogen re-synthesis and re-hydration in the muscles. Also, avoid alcohol for 24 hours after training. Alcohol can dehydrate, which could put extreme stress on your body after an intense workout.
Active Recovery Workout
This is best done the next day after an intense workout or a competitive game. By gently moving your body, you are more likely to eliminate painful muscle soreness by improving blood circulation than you would with complete rest. The preferred activities are low intensity cardio like swimming, cycling or cross-trainer for about 10 – 15 minutes at an intensity of less than 5 out of 10 on an exercise intensity scale for optimal benefits. A recent Australian study has shown that tri-athletes were able to run for an extra 15% after an active recovery workout involving swimming than after complete rest.
Regular use of foam roller can help to reduce the tight knots in the muscle and can be used as part of the cool-down. It can be effective in reducing the persistent muscle tightness which happens with resistance training or road running .The top areas to focus are the hamstrings and the calves.
Ice Baths or Contrast therapy:
This is not for everyone! Rapid drop in skin temperature can alleviate the muscle inflammation caused by the micro-trauma of training. Although there is some anecdotal evidence, there are conflicting results on its effectiveness. A lot depends on your individual tolerance to cold exposure. One study published in the European journal of applied physiology (2012) showed that it can be effective to speed up recovery of maximal anerobic performance (sprinting capacity) in athletes. A less intense option is contrast water therapy, which is alternating between cold and hot water showers to improve the blood circulation and reduce the muscle inflammation.
Some athletes prefer to wear compression garments the day after intense training. Although no benefit in performance has been observed during research trials, it has been shown to reduce perceived muscle soreness. Less perceived muscle soreness means less likelihood of days lost in training!
Remember, it is important to factor in recovery days as part of your training schedule. If you are a regular runner, studies suggest that you should take a one week break from regular running every 6- 8 weeks (based on your intensity), to rejuvenate your body and reduce your level of stress hormones. This will enable your body to recover, avoid overtraining and come back harder and with bigger performance gains.
Perform at Your Best,
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