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To achieve your short term or long term fitness goals, it is not just about pushing through physical limits every day. You also need to give your body enough time to recover from your rigorous activities.
That’s because, during intense training, micro-tears happen within the muscle fibres which in turn cause soreness and pain. Resting gives your muscles the opportunity to repair themselves and become stronger. The result: you are able to train harder and longer, becoming a better athlete.
Five Principles of Effective Sports Recovery
Your body must replenish all the nutrients and calories it used up while you were training. So, make sure that you are consuming enough calories and that macronutrients in your diet are well-balanced. Not consuming enough protein, for example, can result in muscle loss. Not enough carbohydrates mean you have less energy to work out.
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While not moving an inch is tempting considering how sore you feel after a competition or an intense training session, many pro trainers, pro athletes and even doctors advise doing light exercises to help speed up recovery and get you back on track.
Light movements boost circulation, which promotes muscle repair. Lower intensity exercises like wall push-ups (for upper body soreness), walking or going for an easy bike ride (for lower body soreness) keeps the blood flowing into the affected areas. Keep these recovery exercises under 20 minutes.
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This may already sound like a broken record. But staying hydrated is one of the most important aspects of recovery. You need to stay hydrated before, during and after sports training.
Water helps control your core body temperature as well as help speed up muscle repair. It also helps reduce fatigue. Adding a little bit of salt into your drinking water helps you rehydrate faster, too. Since you lose electrolytes (sodium) as you sweat, adding a small amount of salt in your drinking water greatly reduces the chances of muscle cramps that are caused by sodium loss.
Get Enough Sleep
After a big sports event or a day of intense training, you need to get at least 8 hours of sleep to recover. Sleep deprivation impairs reflexes which can put athletes at risk of injuries.
Establish and stick to a pre-bedtime routine as this helps regulate your body clock, allowing you to fall asleep quicker, and sleep longer. It is also important to remember that the quality of sleep is as important as the quantity.
So make sure that you keep out distractions like cellphones, TVs and laptops out of your bedroom. Use an old school alarm clock so you won’t need to have your phone by your bedside when you sleep
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Massage therapy is proven to be one of the most effective ways to recover from post-workout muscle soreness. This is why you can read about pro athletes getting a massage after an event or a training session. However, going to a massage therapist isn’t advisable these days due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In this case, doing self-massage to recover is the next best thing.
Sports recovery devices like the massage gun are the go-to for many athletes and professional trainers. Massage guns are handheld devices that work by breaking down lactic acid build-up in the muscles. These devices use percussive force to drive vibrations deep into the muscle tissue. Blood flow is greatly improved which speeds up recovery and helps build muscle strength.
While these devices are very convenient to use and portable make sure that you use them for no more than 15 minutes at a time. If you have recently recovered from an injury (sprained wrist, broken arm, etc.), consult with your doctor first before trying these self-massage devices.
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For athletes, regular and intense sports training is the key to optimum athletic performance. It is the only way to be faster, stronger, better. However, if you want to be in the best shape and avoid injuries that can set you back from training for several days or more than a week, allowing your body to recover is critical.
Whether it is using a massage gun post-workout or following a well-balanced diet every day, the right approach will help speed up your recovery and get you back on track in no time.
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