So you’ve trained hard, and feeling a bit ahh tight/sore/I can’t bend over to tie my own shoe laces. Here are a few things you can do to aid and even increase recovery time.
Stretching after exercise helps to return muscles to their normal resting length. It can also aid in increasing flexibility. It is best to stretch after exercise while you are still warm. Stretch the major muscles that were used during your exercise session. ACC recommend holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds, breathing normally whilst doing them, avoid bouncing and apply each stretch slowly.
When to drink Amount of Fluid
- 2 hours before exercise 2-3 cups
- 15 minutes before exercise 1-2 cups
- Every 15 minutes during exercise ½-2 cups
- After exercise 2 cups fluid for every pound of body weight lost
As we exercise our body heats up, we then lose water through sweating. The amount of water lost is dependent on the humidity, intensity and duration of the exercise. The lost water causes plasma volumes within the body to drop, which can cause muscle cramps and premature fatigue. The ACSM recommend the following guidelines for exercise lasting under an hour.
Or here is another way to check your hydration levels.
Eat well. Yes you may be hungry, but heading past Mc Donald’s may do you more harm than good. Eat some carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen stores. Moderate exercise needs about 30-40 grams of carbohydrates after an hour of exercise. You also want to include some protein, as it initiates the rebuilding and repair of muscle.
Here are some sample food combinations for your post exercise meal:
- Bread, a bagel, or an English muffin with cheese or peanut butter
- Dried fruit and nuts
- Cottage cheese with fruit
- Fruit juice with cheese
- Yogurt with fruit
- Veggie omelette with toast or roll
- Chocolate milk
- Cereal with milk
- Eggs and toast
- Turkey, ham, chicken, or roast beef sandwich
- Vegetable stir-fry with chicken, shrimp, edamame or tofu
- Crackers with low fat cheese
- Smoothie (with milk, yogurt, or added protein powder)
- A protein or energy shake
- Any regular meal that contains lean protein, starch, and vegetables
Some athletes may use ice baths (as seen in the picture) but you may not be so keen. You can however get some of the same benefit by trying contrast water therapy. This is just alternating the shower water temperature between hot and cold. It helps with removing waste product in the tissues by the repeated constricting and dilating of blood vessels. Try alternating 2 minutes of hot water and 30 seconds with cold water, repeat 4 times.
Get some shut eye. This is one of the easiest ways to help your body recover. Our bodies require adequate sleep, and 5-7 hours for most of us just doesn’t cut it. It is while we are asleep that our body produces growth hormone which is predominantly responsible for tissue growth and repair.