If you’ve heard the saying ‘recovery is just as important as the exercise itself’, but haven’t paid it much attention, it should be time that you do.
Exercise recovery (or lack of) can greatly impact performance and progression. For example, muscle fibers are torn during strenuous exercise, and it is during the recovery period that they rebuild themselves to form stronger formations. If you’re not getting the correct fuel or rest during the recovery period, then it could be a lot harder for you to build strength.
Without sufficient recovery time, the muscles can continue to break down from extensive exercise. The body can then become more susceptible to injury or the harmful effects of overtraining. Having a good recovery routine will not only give you the time and energy needed to recover and rebuild, but it will help you reach peak fitness much faster.
With sufficient recovery:
+ Energy stores are replenished
+ Damaged tissues and muscles are repaired
+ Decreased risk of overtraining and injury
+ Psychological adaptation and recovery
Our tips to help you start implementing a healthy recovery routine into your training are as follows.
1. Refuel & Rehydrate
Rehydrating to replace lost fluids is fundamental for recovery - especially for endurance athletes and long-duration workouts, so drinking water should be at the top of your list.
Post-exercise nutrition is also extremely important. There are foods that will restore your energy levels quickly after exercise, and foods that will provide the nutrients your body needs to recover. Along with your normal wholefood healthy meals, you may like to supplement your diet with the following to assist with the recovery process.
After exercise, our muscles act similarly to sponges - they absorb whatever nutrients we feed ourselves with. That’s why consuming a high-quality protein is critical post-exercise - protein is required to promote growth, repair damaged cells and tissue, synthesize hormones and many other essential processes that within the body. Protein will help your muscle fibres repair and rebuild themselves faster, improving your recovery time and allowing you to workout again sooner.
The reason why protein is so effective for recovery is that protein contains amino acids. Amino acids are essential for healing wounds and repairing tissue, especially in the muscles. By repairing muscle quickly, protein can also help to reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness.
Inflammation is a common response from the muscles after exercise and is needed to heal, however, a lot of inflammation can hinder and delay recovery. Foods with anti-inflammatory properties can help the body recover more quickly by reducing swelling and initiating healing processes. These include turmeric, ashwagandha, cayenne, and more.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in the body. As physical activity increases, so does the body’s needs for magnesium. Magnesium helps to improve muscle function, metabolise nutrients for energy, and reduce fatigue.
Adaptogens are plants that support the body’s ability to manage physical and emotional stress. In particular, ashwagandha has proven to reduce exercise-induced muscle damage and greatly assists with muscle synthesis. Other helpful adaptogens include maca, ginseng, and mushrooms such as reishi and cordyceps.
2. Rest & Recover
Rest, although often overlooked, is paramount to a good recovery. This means not training every day of the week, allowing enough time for your muscle to recover, and getting adequate sleep. Rest days are important to negate the possibility of overtraining and injury.
During sleep, our pituitary gland releases human growth hormones which help to repair and grow tissue. Sleep also helps us recover mentally as the brain is also restored. Sleep is therefore paramount to recovery as it repairs and restores - not just muscle, but energy levels, focus, and motivation.
3. Self-care & Precaution
Stretching after exercise can help to increase blood flow to the muscles directly after the stretch. Studies have also proven that stretching after exercise is effective at reducing muscle soreness. As well as this, flexibility is related to better performance in most sports.
Although there’s no evidence that massage (similar to stretching) has a direct influence on exercise recovery, there are physical benefits of massage that must be considered. These benefits include reduced muscle tension, pain relief, improved circulation, increased joint mobility and reduction of stress hormones, as well as a range of psychological benefits.
If you’ve haven’t yet incorporated meditation in your daily routine, it could be time that you do. As well as the obvious mental benefits, meditation has a number of physical benefits which help with recovery. It’s been proven to reduce blood pressure, decrease cortisol levels and perceived stress, improve immune system function, and more. Scheduling 10 minutes of meditation once or twice a day is an easy thing you can do to help your body recover.
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