It’s quite easy to over look the importance of recovery. Your recovery is arguably far more superior than your exercise itself.
Every time you workout you’re technically tearing your muscles. Don’t worry, this is good damage. Your body is learning how best to cope with this trauma.
However, this natural process can easily be disrupted through overtraining and lack of recovery. Overtraining can lead to a decrease in your performance, excessive fatigue, an agitated and moody mental state, insomnia and a lack in sex drive. In order to allow your body to repair and improve, you need sufficient and effective recovery.
So let’s get serious about structuring our recovery and review steps to combat the negative effects of strenuous exercise.
Ah yes - That good ole trusted H20!
As we know, our temperatures rise during strenuous exercise. The body’s response is smart and calculated and will begin its cooling functions through sweating. It is important to replace these fluids to support nutrient transfers and remove metabolic waste, thus improving our bodily functions. Men should aim to drink a minimum of 3 litres of water per day, and women 2 litres per day.
After exercising our energy stores are in deficit and we need to refuel.
We need to make sure we are consuming enough calories and protein before and after workouts to recover and rebalance our nutrients. These are our building blocks for muscles.
Try to avoid those heavily restricted diets that will not support your strenuous exercise program.
Maintaining the right balance between training and resting is vital to getting the most out of your training program.
Rest gives your body the time it needs to recover and adapt so you can achieve the results you want. Your body knows how to heal itself if you allow it the time to do so.
Remember time is a healer and you want quality workouts over quantity. You don’t get stronger in the gym but whilst you rest.
You should get into the good practice of stretching before and after your workouts. This will help your muscles recover by improving your circulation.
You can also try using a foam roller to release those knots in your connective tissues.
Both stretching and foam rolling aid in the warming up and cooling down of your muscles reducing muscle soreness, particularly when engaging in strenuous workouts.
Not only do massages feel good but, they release tension in the muscles and improve your circulation by flushing away toxins in the body.
Your foam roller can also be used to assist with these benefits.
Many serious athletes are known to take a plunge in an ice bath after workouts to reduce muscle soreness, inflammation and prevent injury.
If you can’t bare the chill, another alternative is contrast therapy. It is thought that repetitions of alternating between cold and hot water constricts and dilates your blood vessels supporting the removal of waste products.
Sleep affects your whole body. It’s essential and without it your body can not function. During sleep your muscles take a break allowing your body to replenish and repair.
So it may be a good idea to invest in that comfy pillow and mattress after all.
Alcohol is a known dehydrator, not only having negative effects on your body but fitness goals.
After happy hour your body needs to focus its attention on the toxins in your system. Therefore, it will not prioritise the healing and growth of your muscles following your hard workout at the gym.
The mind is a powerful tool! Many athletes spend time using visualisation techniques to support their performance and recovery.
Although not for everyone, becoming familiar with your subconscious mind could be added to your arsenal for recovery.
Ultimately, to recover quickly you need to listen to your body. It has the miraculous ability to stipulate its needs. To ignore the warning signs you are cheating yourself out of your hard work, pushing those goals further away.