Recovery is a vital part of any training program whether you are an elite athlete or just someone who hits up the gym to improve your strength and fitness. In any training program whether it be speed and agility, strength and conditioning or a general fitness program, it is important that recovery becomes part of your routine. A good recovery will help your muscles and connective tissues repair more quickly allowing you to train harder and more effectively next time.
What is Recovery?
Recovery is basically the time it takes the body to repair itself from the damage (stress) caused by training. During recovery a complex process takes place, which includes refueling the muscle and liver glycogen stores (carbohydrates), replacing nutrients lost through sweat and developing new muscle proteins require for growth.
Why is Recovery so Important?
- Appropriate recovery accelerates the regeneration rate between training and competitions
- It increases the quality and quantity of training
- Reduces the risk of developing over training
- Reduces the risk of injury
- Adequate and appropriate recovery can enhance performance
It is important to understand that there are several different methods of recovery and how a certain athlete recovers will vary depending on personal preference, the type of training, time constraints and the resources that are available to that person or group of athletes.
Rest and Sleep
Adequate rest and sleep is the most effective recovery tool. Sleep is where the physical and psychological restoration occurs through hormonal secretion and is critical in ensuring maximal recovery. The quantity and quality of sleep is also very important as in deeper sleep phases the body heals quicker. It is important to note that sleep disturbance is often a sign of over training so if you are constantly waking up in the middle of the night then it could be from overdoing it a bit. Developing good sleep habits is very important.
This enhances the removal of lactate by increasing blood flow through movement. An active recovery will help recovery of force from eccentric damage and will reduce soreness and stiffness of your muscles.
It is generally accepted that increasing flexibility of a muscle-tendon unit produces better performances and reduces the number of injuries. Stretching increases the range of motion and enhances recovery in that it relaxes the muscle.
- Replenishes and maximizes energy (glycogen) stores in the body
- Replaces lost fluids
- Repairs muscle damage
- Protects immune system function
Some form of carbohydrate is essential immediately after training. This replenishes glycogen stores and kick starts the recovery process. The next thing the body needs is protein for muscle recovery and repair. Finally, fluids are used for rehydration.