How you recover from a training session is just as important as what you do during a training session. If you are pushing yourself hard during training but not recovering, you are setting yourself up for burnout and injuries.
Here are 10 ways to improve your recovery:
- Go to Sleep. This is hands down the best way for your body to recover from training. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. This will allow for your muscles and brain to recover as well as adapt to the load placed on them during training. Eat. In order for your body to have the energy to function and recover from training, you need to be fueling it. Athletes need to eat more than a person who doesn't workout and will need more carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen lost during training.
- Drink. Water that is. The body is 50-75% water depending on the structure and this water needs to be replenished. Drinking water while training is best to avoid dehydration but if that isn’t possible, it’s essential to replace the fluid lost through sweat ASAP after training.
- Warm-Up. The function of a warm-up is to allow your body tissues to be better prepared for movement and load. Skipping this means that your tissues are having to work double-time to get to the state needed for the activity. Your warm-up should include movements that are similar to what you will be doing while training. It should include dynamic movements and make you WARM. Only static stretching isn’t a warm-up!
- Cool Down. Who here is guilty of rushing out of a training session to the next thing on your calendar? Cooling down is an important part of training and setting yourself up for a proper recovery. Just like warming up prepares your tissues for a workout, cooling down allows your tissues to return to their resting state in an intentional manner. This is a great time to static stretch if you like it.
- Avoid excess alcohol. You don’t have to cut alcohol out completely (unless you want to) but it shouldn’t be a regular part of your routine if you are focusing on improving your recovery and performance. Alcohol dehydrates you and can negatively impact your quality of sleep (see point 1). What is excessive? For biological females - more than 1 drink a day. For males - more than 2 drinks a day.
- Follow your training plan. It’s too easy to want to add more. One more class. One more set. One more exercise. Make a plan and stick to it. This will help you avoid overtraining which can increase your risk of injury.
- Avoid taking NSAIDS (Tylenol, ibuprofen etc). Popping pills, even over the counter ones, is too normalized in our society. NSAIDS increase your risk of stomach ulcers and should be taken with extreme caution. There are natural anti-inflammatories that you can consume like fruits and vegetables which are great for a variety of reasons.
- Take a mental break. Unplug from your phone. Stop thinking about how the session went. Focus on the present. Your subconscious mind will process the session while you do other things that you enjoy.
- Seek help when needed. You don’t have to suffer in silence. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort that is impacting your training or quality of life, schedule an appointment to get assessed.