Work hard. Train hard. Play even harder.
If you live this kind of lifestyle, then you realize the necessity of proper recovery. I will break it down simply into 5 easy steps:
COOL DOWN, EAT, STRETCH, MASSAGE, SLEEP!
1) Cool Down = 5 – 20 minutes (depending on your workout) of light cardio, walking, or low intensity exercise can help you in many ways. A cool down helps flush out lactic acid and hydrogen ions that would usually cause delayed onset muscle soreness. This is the first step in a good recovery process.
2) Eat = Specifically, eat proper foods and in the right timeframe. A combination of simple carbs and a protein source must be ingested within 30 minutes post workout, preferably immediately afterwards. PBJ, protein shake, turkey sandwich, or chocolate milk are common choices. Eat another full meal within 2 hours as well.
3) Stretch =
Stretching is key for lengthening tissue and fascia, increasing range of motion, and decreasing risk for injury. Static stretching after a workout combined with good deep breathing will increase blood flow, aid in muscle repair, and keep tissue lean and healthy. Flexibility is essential for the athletes recovery.
4) Massage = Combined with cool down, nutrition, and stretching, massage is the ultimate tool to aid in recovery. Increasing circulation will allow blood and lymph to speed up recovery, flush toxins and metabolic wastes, and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to relax your mind and body. Massage is also key for injury prevention and rehabilitation. Depending on training intensity and consistency, an athlete can get a massage every week or, at least, once a month. Self massage is also an option using foam rollers, tennis balls, and various other equipment.
Here is an excellent post on self myo-fascial release I wrote. Check it out:
5) Sleep = Pretty self explanatory. Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
Also, something I have personally been doing lately is swimming laps for recovery. I usually swim around 500 meters at a slow, easy pace. I find this loosens up my body and gets me ready for another day of training. I also sleep like a baby. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Best in health,