Recovery: Why it is so important and what to do
Alongside consistent and structured training the key to being a great athlete is a solid recovery routine. Without focused recovery our bodies ability to heal and repair itself is greatly decreased which in turn hinders our improvement and progress.
There are numerous ways you, as an athlete, can assist your body in its recovery, helping you to train more efficiently and achieve results faster.
In this article I suggest some easy and simple steps to improving your recovery:
Step one – Hydration
Drinking before and during exercise is crucial to putting in a great performance. Even mild dehydration can have huge impacts on your ability to train. It is also important to re-hydrate after training. Drinking enough post class will not only help replenish the fluids lost during training but will also help your body to clear toxins produced during your workout.
Step two – Stretching and Foam Rolling
Once the clock has stopped and your breathing has finally slowed you may just want to crash out and make sweat angels, however this is the best time to begin your recovery. After training your muscles are warm and supple making it an ideal time to stretch out and foam roll. Stimulating blood flow, increasing range of motion, elongating muscle fibres and clearing toxins are just a few of the benefits of post-wod mobility.
Step three – Eat a high protein meal
Having good post-workout nutrition is essential to replenish energy stores, increase muscle size or quality and repair damage inflicted during training. Ideally you want to get a good mix of protein and carbohydrates into your body within two hours. Protein shakes are a quick and convenient way to fuel yourself post-workout but are not a substitute for real food. You should be looking to eat a balanced meal of protein (meat/eggs) and carbohydrates (vegetables/fruit) as soon as possible after training.
Step four – Dry body brushing
Dry body brushing is not usually associated with athletes. However its benefits in a speedy recovery can be very useful to those of us who train hard. By stimulating blood circulation and the lymphatic flow it can assist your body in detoxifying itself from the free radicals released during muscle break down from training. Not only that, but it can increase cell renewal helping to accelerate the healing process. See my article here http://jessicabaconhealth.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/dry-body-brushing.html on how to get started.
Step five – Ice/hot baths
Commonly used by rugby players there is a method behind the freezing cold madness. Having a cold shower or ice bath after training will help bring down inflammation in the joints and muscles, which has occurred during your workout. Although ice baths effectiveness is heavily debated we have found them to dramatically reduce the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs).
Step six – Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep is the most important factor to consider with regards to recovery. Whilst we sleep our body begins to repair our muscles, balances out our hormone levels, immune system and central nervous system and restores our cognitive function. Achieving 7-10 hours of quality sleep each night will ensure your body is fully restored for the next day. A lack of sleep will lead to prolonged muscle soreness, slower reaction times, lower immune system response and below average energy levels.
We all work hard in the box and want to achieve the most from our training. By maximising our potential to recover we set ourselves up to perform better as athletes and become the best version of ourselves that we can be.