As much as we love to go and smash ourselves with a big running session, or by throwing around a few weights in the gym (we pretend to love it anyway!), it’s equally important to look after our body through managing our workload. After all, you can’t continue to train if you’re constantly sore, fatigued or worse of all…injured. That being said, the importance of recovery in attaining your fitness goals is highly critical. Recovery essentially refers to the period directly after a training session, in the lead up to the next. It incorporates all the actions which assist in returning your body to pre-exercise levels. The effects of recovery often go underrated; however, all professional sportsman cannot speak higher of the positive impacts that a proper recovery has on performance.
Exercising or sports performance causes our body to bring about acute responses to meet the demands of physical activity. After exercise, the body goes through changes to return to stable internal environment conditions. This period also allows the body to adapt to the stress felt experienced during exercise, enabling the physical gains we seek. Many recovery strategies are used to allow the process to occur in less time, ultimately allowing you to get back to training much earlier. The recovery process focuses on energy replenishment, rehydration, waste removal and muscle recovery. Here at SportsPower Geelong, we will look at a few important recovery strategies and what effects they have on the body.
Rehydration is critical in returning the body to normal physiological levels, especially after exercise which doesn’t allow stoppages to drink water. Essentially, the body loses water during exercise through the excretion of sweat. The body sweats during exercise to cool the skin and maintain its standard core temperature of approximately 37 degrees celsius. This means that more blood flow is directed to the skin, taking away some flow which could be directed to muscles to be provided with oxygen. This redistribution of blood flow is what causes the fatigue in muscles. Therefore, drinking water provides a source of cooling body temperature without having to sweat, ultimately allowing for more blood (carrying oxygen) to be directed to muscles. What does all this mean for recovery you ask? Well, this is a pretty easy one. Water should be consumed directly after exercise. The standard rule is that 1.5 litres of water should be consumed for every 1 kilogram of weight lost. For example, if a session causes you to lose 400 grams in weight, a Nike 600 millilitre Sport bottle should be sipped on afterwards, conveniently supplied by the shelves of SportsPower Geelong!
Energy & replenishment:
Any exercise will require the use of stored energy to fuel the body whilst working hard. Energy used will depend on the duration and intensity of any exercise. Carbohydrates, stored in the muscles as glycogen, will be used as a primary energy source, whilst fats will be used as an energy source the longer exercises lasts. The body will continue to burn energy throughout the day, therefore the sources of energy lost through exercise will need to come back into the body. The first hour window is critical in replacing carbohydrates lost. This is because exercise causes the muscles to be more responsive to insulin, allowing for a greater uptake of glucose (carbohydrates) by the muscles. In this 1-hour window, foods with a high GI (glycaemic index) such as sugary foods can be consumed as they are broken down quickly, causing a rapid increase in blood glucose. After 2 hours, low GI foods such as wholegrain foods, fruit and vegetables are to be consumed. When consuming the low GI foods in a meal after a couple of hours, protein should be eaten in conjunction at a recommended ratio of 4:1 (carbohydrates: protein). The raise in blood glucose caused by carbohydrates allows for an easier uptake of protein. Protein will help with the repair and regrowth of muscle tissue damaged during exercise.
Numerous electrolytes which help to regulate bodily functions will also be lost through sweat when exercising. A great recovery tool to replace lost electrolytes are various sports drinks. As well as assisting in rehydration and carbohydrate replenishment, sports drinks can rapidly replace electrolytes lost, improving numerous bodily functions.
A warm-down should always be performed directly after exercise. This should consist of some static stretching as well as a form of active recovery. Exercise will cause a build-up of waste products within the body, the main ones being lactate and hydrogen ions. In order to remove these products which are harmful to muscles, oxidation of the products must occur. This is done through an increase in blood and oxygen flow which remove the waste products. By stretching and actively recovering (walking, slow jog, slow bike ride), the movement acts as a muscle pump which can shift blood flow around the body at a greater rate, allowing for the removal of waste.
A popular feature of SportsPower Geelong has proven to be our quality range of compression gear… and you can see why with the benefits. Wearing compression gear after exercise reduces any inflammation through muscle tightness/soreness, as well as promoting blood flow in the area being worn.
Massaging is a great form of preventing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) as it provides a source of relaxing tight muscles. Furthermore, the movement of muscle promote an increased blood flow, allowing for increased removal of waste products. I know a typical massage can be worth a bit, however there is no need to worry! Using equipment such as a foam roller or massage ball will have the same affect, at less cost and without having to book a massage into your busy schedule. Check out our range of PTP massage gear to secure yours today!
A water-based form of recovery is something very similar in today’s sporting environment. Ice baths are a great source of recovery for any isolated sore spots. This is due to their ability to cause constriction of blood vessels, decreasing the blood flow to injured areas of the body and limiting the inflammatory response to an injury. Another popular water recovery technique is to move between hot and cold baths. This allows for the continual constriction and dilation of blood vessels, leading to greater movement of blood through the body. Again, this assists with waste removal post exercise.
A final aspect which highlights the importance of recovery is the mental side of things. No one can continue to push their body forever; it takes any mental stimulation out of it and will eventually take its toll. Taking the time to rest the body and mind will be a real refresher for anyone. How you feel mentally has a significant impact upon exercise and sports performance!
Now go get out there, work hard…recover…repeat! Your body will thank you later!