People understand the importance of regular exercise & structured training to get the best performance possible. However, not many pay attention to Rest and Recovery, which is as important as a structured activity for your overall exercise program.
Rest and Recovery allow for the body to repair and strengthen itself between workouts, as well as giving the athlete time to rest and unwind between activities.
A lot of you must be wondering, ‘what specifically does Rest and Recovery do?’.
WHY MUSCLE RECOVERY IS IMPORTANT
Putting it simply, it allows the body to adapt to the stress associated with any given exercise and offers your muscle tissue time to repair while also replenishing glycogen.
High-intensity aerobic exercises like cycling, running, and resistance training creates microtears in your muscles. This can not only lead to pain and soreness but can damage or even inhibit your muscle’s ability to perform as effectively.
It also causes the accumulation of byproducts such as lactic acid in the muscles. Lactic acid can impair the electrical stimulus needed for muscle contraction as well as the body’s ability to create Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is a molecule responsible for energy.
That is why it is critical that athletes and amateurs alike take the time rest and recover as only then will the body be able to mend those microtraumas. This also allows the body to more efficiently recover the next time around, allowing you to function at your peak with time.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T REST AND RECOVER?
Failure to adequately Rest and Recover between workouts can negatively impact your sleep. This is because your body fails to differentiate between different kinds of stress. Hence overtraining can put individuals in a state of Chronic Fight-or-Flight, wherein your body is always ready to push itself to the limits.
Cravings of sweet and salty foods also tend to rise when overtraining, as sometimes electrolyte imbalances are caused as a result of excess electrolyte loss due to sweating. This is your body’s way of quickly trying to replenish these energy sources in preparation for your next workout.
WAYS TO ENCOURAGE MUSCLE RECOVERY
There are many different specialised forms of Recovery that are available for different kinds of sports and activities. In this article, we are going to focus on the activities that can be done by anyone and anywhere.
- Eating Healthy
- Increased Sleep
- Hydrating and Replenishing of Electrolytes
- Compression Attire
- Use of Rollers
- Cold Showers Post Workout
You must’ve heard this your whole lives, but stay away from junk food and in particular fast-food. These foods come with copious amounts of processed fats and sugars, which are difficult for your body to process and utilise.
Instead, a diet of whole foods and leafy greens are perfect for your muscles, and they are rich in nutrients and fibre and can be processed efficiently by the body. Healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil, as well as meats like chicken, are also acceptable. As long as you refrain from packaged goods and processed meats, you are already on the right track.
HYDRATION AND REPLENISHMENT OF ELECTROLYTES
When the body sweats, you lose water and electrolytes, primarily sodium. Therefore drinking water alone will not replenish your body with the electrolytes it has lost.
That is why in addition to drinking the right amount of water throughout the day, it is crucial to consume an electrolyte-rich drink. This can either be through sports drinks or something as simple as Lemon Juice with a pinch of salt – easy and convenient to make at home.
Want to Read More About Hydration? Check Out These Articles!
Sleep plays a significant role in athletic performance and Recovery. Good quality sleep and lots of it plays a massive role in the recovery process. The majority of muscle repair and growth occurs while sleeping as that is the time when much of the body’s growth and regulatory hormones are released.
Individuals who are sleep deprived are at risk of higher cortisol (stress hormone) levels as well as a decrease in Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which is an essential hormone for tissue repair and regeneration.
Research has shown that wearing compression clothing may aid in increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation in the muscles. It also helps to clear lactic acid from within the muscles and allows for the recovery process to start faster.
Attire such as compression socks, pants and shorts allow for the circulation of lymphatic fluids toward the kidneys and liver accelerating the removal of lactic acid and other metabolic waste.
Check Out Our Article on CEP’s Line of Compression Wear!
USE OF ROLLERS
The use of rollers to massage the muscles after a workout promotes what is known as ‘Autogenic Inhibition’, or the sudden relaxation of muscles. It also allows the muscles to relieve soreness and improves flexibility and range of motion. The sustained pressure sends signals to the central nervous system to reduce tension, similar to how your muscles feel great after a deep tissue massage.
COLD SHOWERS POST WORKOUT
After an exercise session, your muscles are inflamed and full of lactic acid. A shower in cold water will contract your muscles which will help in reducing inflammation and soreness. This also tightens your muscles and forces the lactic acid from in between your muscle fibers, similar to wringing a sponge.
Rest and Recovery are critical for enhancing your athletic performance, both physiologically and psychologically. Just like exercising, the benefits of Recovery are only yielded over time. They are essential to repair, rebuild, and strengthen your body.
That is why it is vital to give the same level of priority to Recovery as one does to exercising. As the two go hand in hand in allowing all of us to reach out athletic peaks!
Shucks. We're sorry this post was not that useful
How can we improve this post for you?
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING:
I love the freedom which comes with riding a bike. On my Hardtail MTB , nothing is an obstacle, I seamlessly flow down trails and through traffic like water in a river. And that flow gives me immense satisfaction and the continued drive to get back on my bike the next day.
DISCIPLINE: Mountain Biking & Commuting
CURRENT BIKE: Marin Bolinas Ridge Disc
DREAM BIKE: Cannondale TOPSTONE Carbon Lefty 3