Recovery Sessions and Why They Are So Important
So much importance is put into the preparation for an event such as a football match or marathon and much hard work is put into the actual event itself. The part that often seems to be forgotten about is the recovery after the activity. We think about what we eat and drink before and during. We think about how we train before to be in the best possible condition for the event. Then immediately after and in the days following the activity many of us don’t pay too much attention to what we could be doing to help our bodies recover efficiently. Remember the quicker our bodies recover and repair, the sooner we are able to train and play again at our optimum levels. I will use football as an example but these tips can be applied to most sports and activities.
The first place to start is immediately after a game where a warm down would be a very good idea. This consists of some light jogging to help with venous return and then some stretching. The jogging helps keep the heart rate elevated and the contracting muscles help push the blood back to the heart. Together this helps to flush out the lactic acid from your tired muscles that would otherwise just sit there and cause discomfort in the following days. The stretching part is very important as the muscles tend to shorten in length after they have been worked hard. This is the best time to stretch as your muscles are warm and this will help return them to their normal length whilst also helping to increase your flexibility.
The next thing to consider is what you eat and drink straight after a game. The first half hour after you finish the game is the most important. This is when your muscles are primed to absorb and replenish the nutrients they have lost through activity. There are many recovery sports drinks you can have immediately after a game which will consist of the nutrients you need. These are very convenient and quite a good idea as you can get them into your body quickly. If you would prefer to eat then you want your food to consist of a high protein meal as the protein is what repairs your muscles. It will also need to contain carbohydrates to restock your energy stores and fats too. You should drink plenty of fluids straight after as you would have lost a lot through sweating and in energy production. (I’m afraid alcohol doesn’t count as a fluid straight after a game!) A great gauge but not always the most practical is to weigh yourself before and after the game to see how much weight has been lost in fluid and then replace this. For every Kg of weight lost you should try to drink 1Ltr of fluid.
The day after your game your body is still recovering and repairing from the stress you have exerted on it the day before. A light bit of activity to raise your heart rate again will work wonders. Maybe a light jog, swim or cycle, nothing too strenuous! After this try to stretch out all your muscles again and increase your flexibility.
3 Tips To a Faster Recovery
- Keep your heart rate up immediately after finishing your particular activity (jog, bike etc) this will help flush out the lactic acid. At least 15 minutes.
- Have a recovery drink ready for consuming immediately post exercise to replenish nutrients. (not beer!)
- Go for a jog and stretch the day after your activity.