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5 Keys To Improving Your Post-Workout Recovery

August 27, 2015

No matter which sport you are involved in, proper recovery plays a critical part in optimizing performance. It is widely accepted that some form of muscle recovery following hard efforts and intense competition is crucial to allowing the athlete to function on the highest level day in and day out.

Improper Recovery Can Lead To Injury, Fatigue, or Illness

Lack of proper recovery has been linked to injuries, fatigue, and even illness. While there is some varying research available on different recovery methods, we've put together our keys to improving post-workout recovery. 

1. Hydrate and Replace Fluids 

You lose a lot of fluids during exercise and ideally, you should be replacing it during exercise, but filling up post-workout is an easy way to boost your recovery. Water supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body and having plenty of water will improve how your body functions and recovers. Adequate fluid replacement is even more important for endurance athletes who lose large amounts of water and minerals during hours of training.

2. Refuel and Eat Properly

Proper Nutrients Help Athletes RecoverAfter depleting your energy stores with exercise, you need to refuel if you expect your body to recover properly and be ready for the next challenge. This is even more important if you are performing endurance exercises day after day. Ideally, you should try to eat within 30-60 minutes of the end of your workout and make sure you include some high-quality proteins and complex carbohydrates. A diet of essential proteins and amino acids can help repair muscle tissues, avoid injury and reduce muscle soreness. There are nine essential amino acids that are not produced naturally in the body, but need to be replaced by foods or through daily supplements. If you do not get essential amino acids in your diet, proteins break down, resulting in muscle loss and problems with repair. 

3. Monitor Your Heart Rate

Mio Global Hear Rate Monitor

After exercise, particularly after a long run or bike ride, several things happen in the body. Fuel sources are depleted, temperature increases, and muscles are damaged. All of these factors must be addressed and corrected. The body has to work harder, and this increased work results in a higher heart rate. Even though you might feel okay at rest, your body is working harder to repair itself, and you’ll notice an elevated heart rate. Monitoring your resting heart rate and your exercise heart rate will allow you to make appropriate adjustments such as eating more or taking a day off when your rate is elevated.

Many people don't like wearing HRMs because you have to wear cumbersome chest straps that can chafe and cause discomfort.  Not anymore!  Mio Global offers a variety of heart rate monitoring products that use an electro-optical cell which senses the volume of blood under the skin. From there, sophisticated algorithms are applied so that the heart’s true rhythm can be detected, even during high intensity workouts. Measuring the rate of your heart during exercise can help you determine when you're pushing your body too hard or need to push it harder to achieve the level of fitness you are seeking. 

4. Massage or Foam Roller

5 Keys To Improving Post Workout Recovery

A massage, foam roller, lacrosse ball, rolling stick, etc., can bring muscles back to homeostasis.  If you address adhesions or knots in the soft tissue on a regular basis, it can be extremely beneficial as both a recovery tool and an injury-prevention technique. 

The best time for a massage is three hours or longer after a race or hard effort. A 2009 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that massage immediately after intense effort inhibited the body’s ability to remove lactate from muscle.

5. Active Recovery

Active recovery is a light recovery workout that’s done to speed up your workout recovery time. There are two ways to recover after exercise – passive recovery, and active recovery.  Passive recovery is simply – rest.  Whatever the case, you can speed up this muscle repair process by incorporating active recovery.  Active recovery forces nutrient-filled blood into your muscles.  This extra blood flow on your days off helps you get the essential nutrients to your muscles that are necessary for regeneration.

Here are some active recovery workout ideas

  • Walking – Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Go to the park, or take your dog for a walk.
  • Biking – Take your bike out for a scenic ride at a leisurely pace. Enjoy the fresh air while you recover.
  • Yoga – Work on your mental health as you pump nutrient-filled blood to your muscles.
  • Technique – Use active recovery days to work on your technique. Sport specific technique drills are a great way to solve two problems at once.

Did we leave anything out?  Tell us your favorite post-workout recovery tips. 

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