BY THE PERFORMANCE SOLUTIONS TEAM
To get the best out of any exercise regime, what you do after your main workout is every bit as important as what you do during. Recovery is a key component in getting the results you want from exercise and training, whether that is a performance improvement, building muscle, losing weight or improving cardiovascular health.
Recovery itself can be broken down into different components. It is essential to give them equal importance to improve your overall health and fitness and reduce the risk of injury or illness.
All types of exercise will put some level of strain on your body. Depending on the type of activity you do, your muscles can be pulled and stretched, your bones and joints can experience high impact, and your body’s energy stocks can become depleted.
Recovery is all about repairing the damage to your body while replenishing your energy levels, and there are several ways to do that.
Stretching after a workout or prolonged period of athletic activity is important to your body’s structural recovery. Muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons make up these structural elements, and they can take a battering during exercise.
While it is advisable to carry out some dynamic stretching before exercise, post-activity stretching should be static. This is to allow for the stretching of already well-worked muscles without the risk of damaging them.
Stretching prevents muscles from contracting and tightening after exercise and rids the body of the lactic acid built up during training. This means muscles will be stronger and more flexible the next time you call on them. So while resistance training can help build up muscle, strengthening them requires stretching during recovery.
Incorporating stretching into your regular exercise regime can improve your overall flexibility and mobility, meaning that you will soon find that you can do more with your body each time you exercise or work out.
While exercise can have many benefits to the body, it can also leave many lasting effects that can reduce mobility and lead to back pain and bad posture if not attended to.
That’s why including an element of mobility exercises into your recovery is essential.
Your hips, in particular, can become tightened during activities like running, cycling and HIIT workouts. This can lead to problems with your lower back and stiffening of your joints.
Exercises that focus on stretching and flexibility can help maintain and improve mobility as part of the recovery process.
Yoga and Pilates are ideal exercises for improving mobility and ensuring that joints and muscles damaged and fatigued during intense exercise can recover and be built back stronger.
Nutrition is just as crucial after exercise as it is before. Good nutrition should form an integral part of the recovery process, and you must get the right food and fluids on board to help your body repair, rehydrate and rebuild.
Get into the habit of weighing yourself before and after exercise or athletic activities. You will get an accurate indication of the number of fluids you lose through sweating. To replace these fluids, a good guide is to drink 100ml for every 100g you lose, in addition to your daily recommendation of 2-3 litres of water.
Fast rehydration can also be delivered in SiS Hydro, which delivers the key electrolytes needed to maintain fluid balance in the body.
If you’re unsure whether you have drunk enough water, you’ll know by the colour of your urine afterwards. Darker urine suggests you still haven’t rehydrated sufficiently and so need to get more fluids in.
Water helps to cool your body temperature down and lubricates damaged joints. It also enables you to restore the energy your body has lost and flushes out any toxins. Eating for recovery needs to tick a few boxes.
You need protein to repair stretched and torn muscles, but you also need to replenish the energy you have lost, specifically glucose.
We get glucose from carbohydrates, so eating a recovery meal should contain carbs and protein and other vitamins and minerals that help rebuild our bodies.
Water also helps us to digest food and get these nutrients where they need to go fast.
Protein-rich foods include fish and lean meats, as well as beans, eggs and cheese. To get carbs on board, you can try pasta, quinoa or sweet potatoes. A quick protein-rich snack, like an SiS Protein20 bar will help accelerate recovery, or a quick shake made with Whey Protein can also get to work fast.
You can also help kick-start the rebuilding process with SiS REGO Rapid Recovery, which provides protein and carbs that can work fast to repair strenuous exercise damage.
Recovery should not be just tacked on at the end of the training but should form an integral part.
Allowing your heart rate to recover to its normal level can help improve heart health and circulation. Normal circulation can help deliver oxygen around the body and repair damaged tissue and muscle.
Sleep is also a vital part of rest. It allows your body and mind to switch off and recovery. Lack of sleep can result in bad habits like snacking and slowing down your metabolic rate, making it more difficult to break down foods.
You must focus on getting eight hours of quality sleep at night to allow your body the best chance to recover and reset itself.
A comprehensive recovery programme should be built into your regular exercise and training regime. Not only does it help to repair the damage to your body, but it also helps to build it back stronger and allow for improved performance in the future.
Recovery, rest and rebuilding are vital steps in making training more effective.
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