Recover Faster After Workout
It is very common to get injured while training which can put us off for sometime, depending on the intensity of the injury. Like I got laid off for Plantar Fasciitis a week before Mumbai Marathon in 2012 and was off running for almost 2 months. But getting scared of getting injured and not working out at all, is not the solution. What we need is to be better informed and developing tons of patience.
Injuries, more often than not, happen when we ignore recovering adequately from workouts. Failure to recognise over training symptoms leads to injuries. For now I will focus on recovering faster after workouts which will prevent us from getting injured.
According to Mike Bracko, sleep has been called an athlete’s steroid. Getting enough zzzs is the most important ingredient in achieving full recovery. During sleep, though from outside the body seems to be at rest but inside it is working really hard to release growth hormones to stimulate and help grow muscle and reduce fatigue. If we don’t give the body enough time, it wakes up tired. According to researches, athletes who regularly stayed in bed longer had better timings in their respective events and suffered lesser injuries than the ones who cut short their sleep time.Typically, a 8-10 hours of sleep is ideal for recovery.
To ascertain the amount of sleep required by an individual a simple exercise can be done. Sleep at a fixed time at night without setting up the alarm. The time you wake up on your own and feel fresh is the amount of sleep you may need. Try this for few days in a row to confirm the result. Also on days of high intensity workout, more sleep may be required.
1. Have a light dinner. Aim at having the heaviest meal before 3 in the afternoon.
2. Have a 1-2 hour break after dinner before hitting the sack.
3. Have a hot water bath before going to bed. It relaxes the body and promotes deep sleep.
4. Meditate or listen to soft music or read a book before going to bed.
5. Disconnect from internet 1-2 hours before going to bed.
6. Limit caffeine intake as it is a stimulant. .
7. Use the bedroom only to sleep and to have sex. Keep the television, laptops out of it.
8. Avoid bright lights before going to bed.
9. Avoid sleeping more than 30 minutes in the daytime. Also 15-20 minutes of cat nap after lunch helps increase productivity.
It is the second most important recovery tool. Most of the aches and pulls can be cured with this technique or at least can be stopped from aggravating. RICE means Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
There no denying of the fact that we should give rest to our body or to the injured muscle group after a workout. The body is such a wonderful machine that it has its own system of troubleshooting some of the injuries. It gives us clear indications to stop doing some activity by showing fatigue, muscle pull or cramps etc. Don’t ignore them. However, rest does not mean sitting on the couch and munching away packets of chips. Rest means an active rest. Keep moving without aggravating the injured area.
After any workout, ice the joints especially knees, ankles, quads, hamstrings and calves. What we can do is either sit in a tub full of ice and water or apply ice pack on the joints and muscles immediately within half an hour of completion of workout. Ice treatment has many benefits like it reduce muscle soreness and swelling, prevents tissue breakdown, constricts blood vessels and flushes out waste products like lactic acid, out of affected tissues and etc etc. Remember not to ice a specific area for than 15-20 minutes or you may suffer from chill blain.
Another school of thought thinks the opposite on icing after workout. They say that icing interrupts the natural process of body to recover. Also that active recovery is better than icing as it promotes blood flow and reduces fatigue. Icing may stop inflammation but also delays healing process. According to Journal of Strength and Conditioning, direct application of ice on a body part seems to not improve but rather delay recovery from eccentric exercise–induced muscle damage.
So, I suggest figure out what works best for you. Never stop experimenting. Like now I have stopped icing and do not feel it’s need now. However, proper diet and active recovery like swimming, walking and cycling will help you recover faster.
According to Journal of Strength and Conditioning, wearing compression garments showed the ability to lower lactate concentration and heart rate and promoted active recovery process after bouts of high intensity running. I can vouch for this study as after my weekly long runs, wearing the compression socks have proved to be really helpful. However, I am averse to wearing it while on the run. My personal choice though.
It means when you are sleeping or sitting, try and keep the fatigued body part above the heart level. It helps reducing swelling and pain as it avoids pooling of blood.
Water is magic. After a workout, it is very important to drink plenty of fluids to help recover faster. It helps to flush out toxins and prevents muscle cramps and stiffness. As per study conducted by Journal of Athletic Training, dehydration leads to increase in core temperature. From there, then everything goes downhill.
Aim to have approximately 8 ounces of water for runs of more than an hour and include some electrolytes if it exceeds a couple of hour. Also after workout, keep drinking water throughout the day till the time the colour of urine is clear.
4. Post workout snack
Proteins helps repair muscles and carbohydrate helps replenish the depleted glycogen level. For over a year from now I was making the mistake of ignoring the importance of consuming a post workout snack and suffered from bouts of lethargy throughout the day.
The best bet will be consuming a post workout snack of a combo of carbs and protein within 30-60 minutes of finishing a workout. Thereafter, having a normal meal after 2 hours. According to Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, consuming a drink with a combination of carbs, proteins and electrolytes promotes faster recovery after workout. Post workout foods can be –
– Chocolate milk
– Energy bars.
– Smoothie with fruits and yogurt.
To continue performing better and maintain a healthy, injury free body, recovery process cannot be ignored. I have stated few techniques above to recover faster from workouts which I have been following quite religiously. Please add to the above if I missed any point, especially any new post workout snacks? Till then stay fit and keep running.
1. Image - Google.
2. Mike Bracko.