Often everyone knows that to live a healthy lifestyle you need to exercise and eat healthy to lead a healthy lifestyle. However, often lots of people neglect the importance of recovery. It is very important to include active recovery into each weekly workout, rest and recovery are essential elements to any fitness program and arguably, is more important than the workout itself. Proactive recovery must take place before any progress can be made.
So, how do you recover? The amount of recovery one would need from exercise depends on a number of factors such as
- (a) your inherent fitness level,
- (b) the intensity of your workout and…
- (c) your familiarity of the workout.
For example, overtraining will happen more commonly for newcomers whereas more experienced athletes will be able to train far more frequently before excess soreness prevails.
Below are MotivatePT’s top 4 ways to ensure maximum recovery.
Rest days & active recovery
The most effective treatment, and maybe the most obvious, is to allow your body time to rest and for you to get plenty of sleep! However as is so often the case in today’s busy world, the latter is not as easy as it sounds. But if you are deprived of sleep then muscle soreness will persist and take more time to fully heal, so I encourage you to top up on your beauty sleep as much as you can.
Furthermore, to actively aid with recovery I recommend to all clients to partake in some light exercise in between intense workouts, in order to stimulate blood flow to muscles. By light exercise, I encourage a light jog, yoga exercises and/or swimming.
Tip: The National Sleep Foundation recommend that adults sleep between 7-9 hours per day.
We hear it all the time from all quarters that we need to be drinking more water during the day, yet it is amazing how most of us still don’t drink enough. This is especially true when it comes to muscle recovery, as plenty of water can help flush out toxins from your body which in turn can make muscle soreness less painful.
It is widely recommended to drink eight 8-ounce glasses (the “8×8 rule”), which equals about 2 litres, or half a gallon. On the days you work out, it would need to be greater than that.
Therefore it is critical that you are adequately hydrated, and you have a healthy, nutritious diet. This leads us onto …
Food – The Correct Nutrition
Something that a lot of my clients are not aware of is that another component to aid recovery, is to target foods which are high in potassium, as it is a mineral that is crucial to muscle contraction and to the heart. A grave deficiency typically leads to a lot of soreness and cramping. If you have ever experienced any muscle cramping in the day or in your sleep (as can be quite common), you need to be eating foods with high potassium content such as bananas, raisins, and oranges. So next time you have a sweet tooth, reach over for the right fruits!
Secondly, and a more well-known (and heavily publicised) solution, is your protein intake. Protein is the building block of muscle, so increase your protein intake to improve recovery and reduce soreness. I advise that active trainers have a balance meal (high in carbohydrates and protein) within 2 hours of a workout to aid the recovery process.
Stretching / Massage
Stretching and massages can induce relaxation in your muscles, reduce stiffness and improve blood circulation. (Note: never stretch a cold muscle, I strictly advise stretching post-workouts!)
Unless you are an elite professional athlete, a massage from a therapist may not always be readily available but as an alternative, try self-massaging techniques such as foam rollers and massage sticks.