We don’t have to tell you about the importance of going to gym or pumping iron, but did you know that spending hours sweating bullets day-in-and-day-out will stall your progress? When it comes to reaching your fitness goals, rest and recovery are just as important as all those sweat sessions.
Here’s why: When you exercise, muscle fibres are being broken down, as the fibres heal, they come back stronger. Training without recovery could weaken the strongest athlete. It’s that healing process that reshapes your body. A muscle needs anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild, working it again too soon simply leads to tissue breakdown instead of building. To max the strength building goals that you’re working so hard to accomplish, you have to allow your muscles to recover. Recovery, though, does not mean chilling in front of the TV or indulging in unhealthy food. What you do in your off days is just as crucial as what you do in the gym.
Tips to speed up muscle recovery
- Do active recovery. Move your arms, wrists and knees in low intensity circles promoting circulation. This will bring fresh synovial fluids to lubricate, nourish and hydrate these areas, while expelling waste and scar tissue. Substitute high intensity exercises with Isometrics. Do gentle, controlled stretching and strength building moves on your rest day. Holding a certain position for longer will engage your muscles, but at a lower intensity. This allows blood and nutrients to rebuild your body. Use a foam roller to reduce muscle tension. If you’re feeling pain or tightness post-workout, use a long foam tube to give your muscles a workout. This will break up scar tissue and knotting of muscles which, if left unattended – can lead to nagging aches and pains. Do this as much as you can, the more the better.
- Get quality sleep. Studies suggest that sleep deprivation and disorders can have a significant negative effect on performance and recovery. During sleep your body produces Growth Hormone which is largely responsible for tissue growth and repair. Make sure to get in those Zzz’s for stronger muscles and better endurance.
- Listen to music. Slow tempo music will help to reduce blood pressure and pulse rate after exercise.
- Eat a breakfast high in protein. This will give your muscles the necessary ingredients to start rebuilding. A protein- rich snack before bed will allow your body to repair muscles overnight.
- Drink cherry juice. This will help to reduce the stiffness after last night’s spinning class.
- Hydrate! Good old H2O supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body.
- Get a massage. This will break up scar tissue and reduce stiffness associated with muscle repair.
- Take an ice bath. Taking a full-body cold plunge after a workout can significantly reduce soreness for up to 24 hours after exercise.
- Cut back on the booze. More than one or two drinks after working out could reduce the body’s ability to recover.
The most important thing in muscle recovery is to listen to your body. If you are feeling tired, sore or notice decreased performance, you may need more recovery time or a break from training altogether. Your body has an amazing capacity to take care of itself if you allow it some time. It will let you know what it needs, when it needs it.
The information on Fedhealth Medical Aid is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.