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