10 Ways to Recover Like A Pro
Everyone can train tough, but do you have the guts to recover hard? Here’s how to turn your downtime into post-workout therapy for body, muscles and mind.
BLOW HOT & COLD
Leave ice baths to the muscle masochists. Try standing under a cold shower (around 12 degrees Celsius) for one minute, then turning up the heat (to around 40 degrees Celsius) for three minutes. Repeat four times. According to the Journal of Physical Therapy in Sport, contrasting temperatures will flush out the lactic acid to blame for of next-day soreness.
Notice your shoulders and how they feel. Tense and tight, right? Hunched like you’re bracing for impact? Thought so. “We hold onto tension in our shoulders,” says our meditation ambassador Jody Shield. “Sit down, take some nice deep breaths in and relax your shoulders. Say to yourself: ‘I let go’ and see how it feels when you repeat it a few times.” Feel yourself unwind? This is a practice so keep at it.
MIND OVER MATTER
Just as you need to remove lactic acid from your muscles, clearing out the subconscious ‘junk’ from your mind will keep you feeling fresh. “Write down everything in your head,” says Shield. “Every morning, take 10 minutes to imagine you’re writing a stream of consciousness and downloading the rubbish out of your mind.” You’ll be able to focus on your next session, instead of your to-do list.
SHAKE THINGS UP
Consider chocolate milk for a post-sweat libation. According to the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Metabolism, the childhood favourite contains the optimal ratio of carbohydrates to protein for refueling tired muscles. In the study, cyclists who recuperated with a pint of the surprising elixir were able to go 50 per cent farther the next day than those who drank a regular sports drink. The novelty straw is just for fun.
ELEVATE YOUR SLEEP
If your legs are tired after a weekend on the trails, simply crashing into bed isn’t enough. Elevating your legs helps, but don’t use pillows. “It forces the knees to hyper-extend and it also means you lie on your side or on your front,” says Neat Nutrition co-founder and our Westfield ambassador Charlie Turner. “Instead put a few books or magazines under the bottom two legs.” Don’t go digging out War and Peace and Don Quixote—all you need is a small incline, so that your legs are above the level of your heart.
LEARN TO BE
Finding the balance between ‘doing’ and ‘being’ makes recovering from it all much easier. “‘Doing’ is hitting the gym, making your shake, having your shower and getting ready for work,” says Shield. “‘Being’ is sitting still with yourself, closing your eyes taking some nice, slow and deep breathes, and observing your thoughts. Don’t try and change them, or delete them, simply watch them.” Try for 10 minutes.
FEED YOUR RECUPERATION
Eating antioxidant-rich foods, like cherries and blueberries, can help to halt the onset of post-exercise soreness. “Cherries in particular are packed with anthocyanins, which help to increase the rate that oxygen travels to your ailing muscles,” says Turner. “Bananas are another great option, as their high levels of potassium can help with muscle cramping.”
Your post-training wear can help you prep for your next session. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning says that wearing compression gear for at least an hour after a session not only keeps muscle soreness at bay, it helps improve performance the next day, which makes getting the gear a solid consideration for men and women.
Cool down like you mean it. End your session with 10 minutes of light cardio, followed by dynamic stretches, such as lunges and squats. “Then use a foam roller to ease tightness and tension in your muscles and connective tissue, and to increase blood flow to the affected areas,” says Turner. “A word of warning; do this while your muscles are still warm from your workout, or you’ll likely increase the soreness.”
DO IT ALL AGAIN
If you’re frozen at the top of the stairs with no idea how you’re going to walk down them, you need to train again, albeit at a lower intensity. Studies at the University of Glasgow showed that active recovery sessions promote blood-flow and reduced. Alternate between heavy and light training and you’ll never need a rest day again.
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