Recovery plays a crucial role in an athlete's performance and overall well-being. Boosting your recovery techniques can help muscle repair, reduce fatigue, prevent injuries, and enhance overall athletic performance.
In this article, we will explore our top recovery techniques that anyone and everyone should incorporate into their routine to maximise their recovery to achieve their peak performance levels.
The most effective and critical recovery tool available to us is sleep. Generally, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep for optimal performance and health. While we are sleeping, our bodies repair damaged tissues, regulate hormones, and restore energy levels. Sleep deprivation can impair cognitive function, decrease reaction time, negatively affect physical performance, and impact our immunity.
To optimise sleep quality, we should establish a consistent sleep routine, create a sleep-friendly environment (a well-ventilated room), adopt relaxation techniques such as meditation or reading, try not to use computers or phones 1 hour before sleeping and avoid large meals close to your usual sleep time. Keep reading to find out what strategies you can easily implement to boost your sleep.
Nutrition and Hydration
After exercising we should aim to consume a mix of carbohydrates and protein within 30-60 minutes of completing our activity. This can help in restoring muscle glycogen stores (fuel for energy) and aid in recovery. Additionally, staying properly hydrated is essential for maintaining optimal muscle function and preventing performance declines due to dehydration. By staying hydrated and keeping your body replenished, your body will be ready for the next activity.
Micronutrient support can also increase energy, boost immunity and aid in tissue repair. This is why it is important to keep fuelled and hydrated once you finish training. If not, you may feel sluggish and tired as you have not replenished your fuel stores efficiently.
Movement, Mobility and Massage
Undertaking dynamic stretching, foam rolling, and light movement can be useful in improving your recovery post activity.
Dynamic stretching after recovery can improve muscle performance and enhance recovery by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles.
Additionally, incorporating light, low-impact movements such as walking or cycling after intense exercise can enhance recovery by promoting blood flow, reducing metabolic waste, and reducing muscle stiffness.
Massage therapy is a widely recognised recovery technique used by athletes to enhance muscle recovery and relieve muscle soreness. Post-exercise massages can reduce muscle inflammation, improve mobility, and alleviate post-exercise muscle soreness (DOMS).
Massages promote blood circulation, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to muscles while helping to remove waste products. It also helps to reduce fascial adhesions, enhance flexibility, and reduce the risk of injuries. Athletes can benefit from regular massages, either from a professional therapist or through self-massage techniques such as foam rolling. Foam rolling and using tools like massage guns have also been shown to alleviate muscle tightness and improve joint range of motion post activity.
Cold Water Immersion
Cold water immersion after exercise can enhance the recovery process by reducing muscle soreness and improving perceived recovery (psychological). Cold therapy helps to constrict blood vessels and can reduce inflammation and swelling. It can also help reduce pain, improve circulation post immersion, and improve your psychological state by releasing endorphins; help with your mood and well-being.
Athletes can incorporate cold water immersion by consistently taking ice baths or cold showers. To get the greatest benefits, it is essential to follow proper protocols when implementing cold water immersion.
If you’d like some guidance on recovery techniques, the RISE team is always here to help. Visit Sophie at RISE between 9am-1pm Monday-Friday for assistance or email email@example.com
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