Your recovery routine has an enormous impact on your fitness gains and sports performance. Active or passive recovery allows you to train much more effectively. After exercise, it is essential for muscle and tissue repair of the micro-tears to continue building muscle strength. Recovery in sport, or any form of exercise is modeled into 2-stages:
- Returning what was lost (e.g. reducing fatigue and fueling your body).
- Adapting (i.e. supercompensation) to the imposed training demands you are putting on your body.
It is even more critical after a heavyweight training session to recover as it takes anywhere from 24-48 hours for muscle repair. Below are five tips to help you recover faster and more efficiently.
Depending on the person and on top of the fluids we lose throughout the day through breathing, perspiration, and urine output, the body can lose 16-64 ounces of water during a workout session. That is some serious fluid loss right there! Water supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body so having plenty of water will improve every bodily function. Adequate fluid replacement is even more important for endurance athletes who lose large amounts of water during hours of sweating.
Stretching is defined as “the application of force to musculotendinous structures in order to achieve a change in their length, usually for the purposes of improving joint range of motion, reducing stiffness or soreness, or preparing for an activity.” While there are three types of stretching; static, dynamic, and pre-contraction, any form of stretching you choose will help with muscle soreness, flexibility/range of motion, and recovery of your parasympathetic nervous system.
Whole body cryotherapy (WBC) or local cryotherapy (focused on a specific spot of soreness or injury) can greatly enhance your recovery time. Dr. Timothy Miller, M.D., the director of the Endurance Medicine Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center states, “It [cryotherapy] is an effective method for decreasing and replenishing muscles and other soft tissues following hard workouts.” Why? Put VERY simply, three minutes of whole body cryotherapy is like an ice bath on steroids. Raise your hand if you would prefer to sit in an ice bath for 30 minutes… didn’t think so. When the dry cold (-250 degrees) hits the body during WBC, it triggers a “fight or flight” response. The body senses the extreme cold and blood flows into the torso to insulate and protect the vital organs. After the treatment, oxygenated blood rushes to the extremities and helps with healing, returning the body to a state of homeostasis. Most importantly, the cold stimulates your body’s central nervous system, enhances immune function and improves other regulatory systems in the body. Recovery times from strenuous workouts and injury are improved and shortened due to the decrease of the inflammation in the body.
When you think about an Infrared Sauna, the first word that comes to mind may be “detox” not “recovery.” However, a 2015 study from the Journal of Athletic Enhancement tested the effectiveness of infrared therapy with a group of 10 male athletes from track and field, gymnastics and baseball, and found that the use of infrared sauna heat for 40 minutes improved muscle recovery after intense training as compared to passive recovery methods. Don’t forget to hydrate and replenish electrolytes after a session.
Once only available to the world of professional athletes, compression therapy is now available for everyone. Instead of the everyday compression sleeves or static squeezing, opt for ones that utilize Biomicicry, such as the NormaTec Recovery System. Their dynamic pulse pattern improves the circulation of fresh, oxygenated blood throughout the body, moves excess fluids and lactic acid from your tired muscles (otherwise known as aiding with the lymphatic system), and prevents delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Little known fact: It also can be used as a warm up prior to exercise to loosen up muscle tension.
Needless to say, recovery is a very important component to your workout routine. If you are bored of the same old recovery routine, try incorporating these five ways to enhance your body’s ability to perform at the best level.