What we are all guilty of in some way is not taking the time to recover properly from our training and racing. The purpose of recovery is to enable your body to work hard on consecutive days without causing significant micro trauma to your muscles, which over time will build up and eventually lead to a muscle strain. Recovery is also essential for muscle growth, this is even more critical after a heavy weight training session. A muscle needs anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild, and working it again too soon simply leads to tissue breakdown instead of building. However, there are methods that help you speed up this repair process and therefore train again the following day.
Here is BodyWorks guide to recovery!
1. Always cool down
Cool downs are essential for the removal of metabolic waste from your muscles, one of which is lactic acid. This builds up in your soft tissues when you work anaerobically (without oxygen) or rather you’re working hard, at about 85-95% of your maximum effort. Cooling down after exercise allows the waste to filter and be removed through the body via the circulation, therefore establishing a pre-exercised state back to your muscles.
2. Have a massage!
Well, we couldn’t have a recovery list without including massage! Massage is an essential part of recovery and if you’re not having regular treatments, then you’re reducing the quality of your training and racing. Massage penetrates blood and lymphatic flow throughout the body, therefore fresh oxygen can be brought to the muscle tissue and waste products can be quickly removed. This increase in blood flow will help to repair micro damage caused to the muscle tissue during training/racing and therefore allow you to return to training quicker.
3. Have an ice bath!
At Bodyworks, we are HUGE fans of Ice baths and Contrast bathing techniques. Ice baths are brilliant. Fact. You don’t have to literally add ice to the bath, but just sit in cold water. A study by Easton and Peters (2010) looked at the effects of cold water immersion on the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage and found that cold water immersion may reduce muscle stiffness and the amount of post exercise damage after strenuous eccentric activity. The coldness of the water restricts the swelling caused by the micro trauma (micro trauma and subsequent swelling to muscle tissue is thought to be the cause of DOMS – delayed onset of muscle soreness) Therefore, cryotherpay is thought to help reduce DOMS , one of the main reasons you’re unable to train again after a hard session. Submerge yourself for 10-15 mins and see the difference!
4. Get plenty of sleep!
Sleep is essential for recovery from training. It’s at this point that your muscles are repairing themselves. Human growth hormone is released which repairs damaged cells, therefore enabling you to train again the next day. A lack of sleep can lead to slower glucose metabolism (up to 30-40%) and has been linked to increased levels of perceived exertion and an actual decrease in levels of aerobic endurance. For example, a study conducted by Eve Van Cauter, P.h.D.(2010) indicated that sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), decreased activity of human growth hormone (which is active during tissue repair), and decreased glycogen synthesis (the body’s ability to utilise sugars)
I know that at BodyWorks we actively encourage you to stretch, but there is a reason for this. Stretching post exercise will enable the elastic fibres in your muscles to return to their normal length as opposed to adaptively shortening. When a muscle has the ability to return to its normal length after exercise, injury risks are reduced, range of movement around a joint is maintained and the collection of FUZZ is reduced http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FtSP-tkSug therefore soft tissue mobility is preserved.
Post training nutrition is somewhat controversial. For years trainers have been advocating that by consuming both carbohydrate and protein post exercise within a 15-20 minute bracket, you’ll replenish lost glycogen stores (stored sugars in your muscles) and any food/drink consumption after that is of little benefit. However, a study conducted by Professor Holloszy (2003) indicated that this increased capacity for muscle glycogen accumulation after exercise lasts for at least three days! This is however largely down to the volume of exercise and training that you’re doing. He concluded that the importance of post-exercise carbohydrate feeding to promote maximal rates of muscle glycogen depends largely on the length of time between exercise bouts. So what does all this mean? If you’re training regularly, you need to restore muscle glycogen pretty quickly and so consume protein and carbohydrates as soon as you’re able, but not necessarily within a 15-20 window that’s been previously suggested.
Not only are carbohydrates required for glycogen replenishment post exercise, but also are essential for Protein synthesis as you require fuel to repair the damaged myofibrils (protein structures that cause your muscle fibers to contract). You need protein as part of your recovery food/drink so that these damaged myofibrils can be repaired and you’re able to recover quicker.
In summary, consume carbohydrates post exercise in order to replenish lost glycogen stores in your muscles and aid protein synthesis, but don’t worry too much about when you this happens, and consume protein in order to repair damaged muscle tissue so that you can train again the next day without causing miro damage.
Happy Training x