Author: Jodi Sussner, M.S.
Recovery. Sounds like something only the unfit individual has to do in order to make it through to the next workout, doesn’t it? But the fact is, recovery is an integral part of the training plans for high-level college and professional athletes, which means that you need it too! In reality, the human body requires proper recovery for improved performance, development, and even injury prevention. There are ways to maximize recovery, minimize downtime, and make bigger strides toward your fitness and athletic goals. Ultimately, recovery encompasses the entire body, not just the muscular system. As we uncover the 3 Keys to Quality Recovery, some of these may surprise you. What’s more, when incorporated into your daily and weekly routine, you’ll begin to look at recovery as part of your training.
Here are the 3 keys to quality recovery that are simple, straight-forward, and available to everyone at a minimal cost of time and money:
1. Post workout nutrition
Post workout nutrition is an ideal opportunity for your body to absorb nutrients while the cells are depleted and open to receiving them readily. By consuming the right foods, at the right time, you can improve your overall performance for subsequent workouts, improve recovery time, prevent injury and improve body composition. The overall goal of post-workout nutrition is to provide the following:
So, what is the ideal post-workout nutrition plan for recovery? The individual amount of nutrients and overall balance of each will vary based on the activity and goals of the athlete. These guidelines however, support the goal of post-workout nutrition for all:
In addition to what to eat, studies that recommend specific timing post-workout are mixed on when to eat. Some experts say 1-2 hours post workout is sufficient while others focus on the “window of opportunity” as 30-45 minutes post workout. The truth is, it depends on your goal. The focus of this article is on muscle replenishment and repair for optimal recovery. Therefore, the recommended timeframe is 30-45 minutes post workout with a combination of both carbohydrate (20-30 grams depending on your body weight) and protein (10-20 grams depending on your body weight).
2. Self-massage techniques - There are many convincing reasons to choose self-massage as an option for recovery and why not, it’s wallet friendly, effective and efficient. Here are a few of the key benefits to self-massage along with a great 10 minute routine that you can use every day!
Here is a simple and effective way to introduce self-massage techniques. It covers the entire body and utilizes essential tools that won’t break the bank and can be used on a daily basis.
Start big and then work smaller - focusing on tender spots for a short period of time. Recommended time on each tender spot: 10-15 secs.
3. Rest - Simply put, you need to sleep!
In addition to physical conditioning and conscious eating, sleep plays a major role in athletic performance and competitive results. The quality and amount of sleep athletes get is often the key to winning. REM sleep in particular provides energy to both the brain and body. If sleep is cut short, the body does not have time to repair memory, repair muscle tissue, and release growth hormones.
A study in the journal, “SLEEP” confirms the role of sleep in performance. Their study shows a decline in speed, reaction time and decision making following poor sleep. Accuracy and speed were improved in subjects that were well-rested. In addition to these subjective measures of sleep and performance, some research suggests sleep deprivation actually increases stress hormones like cortisol while decreasing the body’s ability to produce energy from stored muscle glycogen. Experts recommend a minimum of 6 hours of sleep but, shoot for the optimal at 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
Whether you’re at the top of your game or in the game for the fun of it, applying the “3 Keys to Quality Recovery” on a daily basis can be the difference between game-ending and game-changing!
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