Obviously your ability to recover from training will vary enormously from individual to individual. It will depend on many factors including how well adaptedyou are already to the training you have been doing, your age, lifestyle factors etc.
Here are my top tips to speed up recovery so that you get the most out of your next session:
- Always warm up and cool down before and after each session. Whilst many people pay some kind of brief lip service to the warm up, only the better athletes can be seen engaging in any kind of recovery work (funny that!) My suggestions for a cool down would include some gentle jogging, some mobilisations of the body parts you have been using a lot (for me, dynamic movements generally work better than static stretches, before and after, although I might throw in some yoga type whole body stretches with some deep breathing, but not hold them for long).
- Hot and cold treatment – whatever the ‘evidence’ for or against, I recommend cold water immersion, especially after hard workouts in the heat, to get the body temperature down. This makes you feel great afterwards and definitely speeds recovery, even if it’s a shock at the time! Similarly a warm but not boiling hot bath can relax the muscles after training, help you sleep better etc. I also use this to warm up the muscles before training – it gets rid of a lot of the stiffness.
- Rehydrate after training and include some salt in your drinks. This enables you to hold on to the fluid better.
- After number 3 I recommend some foam rolling of any areas where you know from experience you will be stiff and sore – for runners this will often be calves, hamstrings, quads. Continue foam rolling on a regular basis making sure you are well hydrated beforehand. Sports massage also of course.
- Allow adequate sleep for repair (minimum 8 hours for hard training athletes, probably more).
- Refuel when hungry with real whole food, making sure you include some natural protein and plenty of healthy fats. Processed carbohydrates create sticky tissues, inhibiting movement and causing inflammation in the system. Ignore all the marketing hype around protein supplements etc.
- Gentle swimming both before and after exercise is a great option to get stiffness out of the system and massively speed recovery. All forms of walking will also help.
- More of the same activity that caused the muscle soreness, but at a much lower intensity eg. slow jogging after running hard. This will impact more directly on blood flow to the affected muscles.
- Yoga, Pilates, and other low impact activities, especially if combined with deep breathing.
- Compression – this helps the lymphatic system to flush out the waste products of exercise I believe. Calf and thigh compression is recommended for runners. You can also use voodoo floss bands to tightly compress sore muscles for short periods of a few minutes at a time.
Remember that the worst way of all to recover is to simply sit down and do nothing. This will cause everything to tighten up. Gentle movement is best to keep the blood flowing and flush out the waste products.
Obviously, also increase your training very gradually so that your body adapts to the workload. It responds very specifically to whatever load you place upon it, so be aware that, for example, if you run every day, then go out and play football or do a weights session, you can expect to be stiff and sore in lots of muscle groups not used much in running.
For advice on how to structure your training properly, whatever, your goals, get in touch.
Call or text David on 07504439555. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org