Recovery 101

     You push your body to achieve your goals. You’ve seen some positive changes. You’ve overcome some plateaus and feel great about it. Lately you’ve been tired after your workouts. More tired than usual. You don’t recover as fast. Something needs to change.

            Recovery is just as important as working out. Lifting weights causes micro tears in our muscles fibers that eventually lead to growth when recovered properly. Our cardiovascular workouts test the limits of our bodies and our minds pushing you to places you never thought you could go. Our bodies become stronger after the workout more than it does during the workout. Making sure you are fully recovered after and before workouts is important to staying healthy and to keep progressing. Let’s take a look at some great recovery strategies proven to work.

            The first strategy we can apply to our recovery strategy is myofascial release. If you skip your cool down, the body is more prone to your fascia becoming tight and knotted. This causes stiffness and inefficiency in your body. Luckily, most gyms these days have tools to help with myofascial release such as foam rollers. See our article about foam rolling and fascia for more info.

            The next strategy will be a broad topic but varying our body’s temperature is a great way to recover. Think about it. You fall and hurt your knee. It aches and hurts so the first place you go is the freezer. After applying an ice pack on the injured area it starts to feel a little better. The same goes for exercising. If something is painful ice is a great option such as a torn bicep. This works as lowering the body’s temperature helps to reduce inflammation and helps to promote healing in the area. Oftentimes we aren’t hurting ourselves to that degree but do have some general muscles fatigue. Applying heat to the sore area to relax away the pain is great. Another strategy having to do with temperature is sitting in a sauna or taking a dip into a hot tub. The increased temperature increases blood flow allowing nutrients to be sent to the muscles therefore speeding up recovery. Ice baths are another great way to recover as long as you have a big enough tub and are part polar bear.

            Do you sleep for 8 hours a night? If the answer is no, then your recovery might be hindered. However, just sleeping for 8 hours might not be enough. A deep sleep will benefit your ability to workout and recover. More hormones that aid in tissue repair are released during REM sleep cycles. How do you know if you are getting en0ough REM sleep? Waking up refreshed is a sure fire way to know that you’ve gotten good, quality sleep. There are also apps you can get to monitor your sleep.

            Our final strategy is perhaps the most important but also overlooked. Post-workout nutrition. After expending energy our bodies need to refuel. A snack consisting of carbohydrates and protein is shown to help restore our energy levels and repair our muscles. A ratio of 3 or 4-1 carbs to protein is the optimal. Choosing complex carbs and quality proteins will help you stay on track with your nutrition as well.

            Recovery is often overlooked but can help take your fitness to the next level. Monitoring activity levels and recovery is very important and should not be taken for granted. Start by using one of these strategies. Just like our workouts, we should get a good variety of recovery in as well.