Over the years, more research has shown that recovery greatly affects sports performance. Sometimes recovery is more important than training, particularly during in-season, for both the body and mind. Therefore, it is essential to make sure you are getting the most out of your time between sessions.
There are different methods, and many are dependent on the type of activity performed that day, the time until the next training session, and even the equipment available to you. Here, we've outlined the more popular methods used by athletes.
Active recovery can include cross-training such as swimming, running, cycling or walking. All of these activities increase blood flow, which repairs and strengthens muscle fibres. It also maintains fitness while alleviating the muscles that can be over-used in your particular sport. Therefore, it can reduce the risk of injury. These activities should be completed at a lower intensity but a longer duration.
Stretching is vital for your muscles to rest, but also to gain strength. The act of stretching increases blood flow; thereby, the muscles receive the nutrients they need, faster. Stretching also ensures that the muscles don’t seize up after training and can improve flexibility.
Everyone is different when it comes to food, but consider adding foods that are rich in quality carbohydrates and lean protein. Carbohydrates equate to the body’s fuel for the next training session, and protein helps repair muscles. It is suggested to eat 2.2-3.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Note: it is best to eat within 60-90 minutes after training to effectively replenish nutrients, even if it is just a snack.
Sleep is proving to be more beneficial than ever. Due to more research, we are discovering that sleep repairs muscle tissue and also maintain muscle mass. More importantly, it restores balance to the body, including psychological balance to decrease stress factors.
While this may sound relaxing, we’re not talking about a Swedish massage. Sports massages require deep pressure on the muscles to alleviate pain and increase blood flow. However, you may also choose to self-massage with the use of a foam roller or even a tennis ball to trigger particular tight muscles.
It is easy to stay on top of drinking water during exercise, but many forget about hydrating after. Dehydration significantly hinders performance and slows down the recovery process. Try to stick to water as it is effective in replenishing and refreshing the body. However, if you have completed a long session, you can look to use sports drinks to replace electrolytes and carbohydrates.
Follow these tips to optimise your performance every session, and you should start seeing the results. If you want to learn more, read our other health articles.