If you’re devoting rest days and post workout periods as excuses to sprawl out on the couch, snack on that family size bag of sour cream and onion chips you have been hiding from yourself, and stay up past a decent bedtime, you’re not doing your muscles any favors. Rest days and post-workout periods in the day are crucial phases to provide your body with sufficient time to repair and regenerate through increased circulation, sleep, and proper nutrition.
Break up lactic acid
A monumental mistake athletes commit during rest is insufficient recovery. Muscle recovery encompasses multiple aspects of movement including stretching and strengthening. Stay moving to promote increased circulation and sanction new blood and nutrients to filter through your body and repair muscles. In addition to nutrients, lactic acid break-up results from extensive movement on recovery days, leaving you more internally refreshed for your next hard workout session.
Whether you’re binging on Netflix or scrolling through the latest Instagram feed, take time to various squats and lounges before heading to bed, or steal a few calf raises in line at the grocery store. If you are sitting or driving for long periods throughout the day, try a few shoulder and neck rolls. Bring your ankle above your opposite quad for a sitting stretch. These necessary stretches reduce pain and tightness while preventing hyperextension or strains in future training.
Roll out the Kinks
A significant amount of athletic injury originates from tightness deep within a muscle that stretching may not reach. So yes, outside tools are essential for recovery. Recovery tools such as an athletic foam roller, a lacrosse ball or other dense sporting balls will do the trick.
As a quality stretch, foam rolling can reach tension areas in muscles that regular stretching cannot, therefore delivering a greater benefit.
Use the foam roller as a hard surface in which to dive deeper into your sore muscles. Start high on your back and slowly maneuver down your spine to your glutes, hamstrings and calves respectively. Facing down, start with your quads and roll down to your shins. Mirroring a self-massage, use the foam roller or lacrosse ball to reduce tightness in your hip joint area, massaging the top of your IT band and other essential muscles below the hip bone while positioned on your side.
Replenish Omega-3 & Magnesium
Not only is the right nutrition important for post-workout meals, but for an athlete’s daily routine. Currently, three fundamental supplements lead the market as the most important athletic recovery supplements: Magnesium and Omega-3.
According to Dr. Bibus, the world's leading omega-3 specialist, "Omega-3 has a significant impact on heart, brain, eye and muscle health decreasing unwanted inflammation in the body. The Food & Health Administration now recommends 3000mg as a healthy daily intake level."
Omega-3 is imperative to reduce inflammation. Consequently, these fatty acids are found in fish, and therefore do not offer an ideal taste. Most fish oil supplements are supplied in a tablet which create barriers for the body’s absorption. Coromega’s MAX Super High Omega-3 supplement is a tasty, emulsified squeeze packet of fish oil delivering three times the amount of a fish oil soft gel providing increased anti-inflammatory effects key to recovery. And, they taste amazing!
Magnesium is vital to muscle recovery through muscle contraction, blood coagulation, energy production and metabolism. Studies have also shown magnesium is crucial to bone and cell formation, promoting bone and muscle repair after a strenuous workout or injury.
The Right Protein At the Right Time
Directly proceeding your workout, fuel up with nutrient packed proteins such as organic meat or eggs that harbor quality amino-acids, and carbohydrates such as brown rice or sweet potatoes. During your workout, your body releases Cortisol which increases metabolism. The body craves a high caloric intake to balance the increased burn of calories during exercise. If the body does not receive nutrients from diet, it will start to burn existing muscle and fat that can create sizeable health risks. Take advantage of this process by providing your body with essential nutrition immediately after workout.
Catch Major Zzz's
Though underestimated, sleep is central to healthy functioning in our physical and mental states. Experts advise a minimum of 8 hours, and up to 10 hours a day for serious athletes. During deep sleep, the body replenishes nutrients such as the Growth Hormone (HGH), a large part of full body restoration. Heightened activity and energy levels operating with a sleep deprived state could lead to stiff muscles and in turn, injury. To prevent the possibility of injury, set aside a total amount of sleep hours to hit per week to acknowledge your body need for a large time duration to repair cells, and develop potential energy for future training.
The leading message to all professional and recreational athletes is not to skimp on recovery! It is arguably more important than physical training. Maintaining proper recovery methods ensure your mental and physical training deliver the greatest athletic results while guaranteeing your well-being.
From the Health Series written by Coromega's Fitness Specialists