One of the biggest temptations in any sport is to deny the body the opportunity to repair itself after a gruelling day of activity. When top sportspeople are seen in competition winning medals or trophies they often attribute their success to hard work and endless hours of training. Very rarely is recovery mentioned as being part of the training process but it is an essential component of any training programme whether the competitor is a world class professional or enthusiastic amateur.
Why Recovery Is Important
Any form of exercise uses up energy so the lost energy is replaced through a combination of food and drink. Anyone with a basic knowledge of nutrition understands that it is important to refuel with the right foods that provide the body with a good balance of nutrients that offers a steady release of energy. When extended through exercise the body uses its muscles more than it is used to and this creates stress on the muscle tissue. When the body is rested the muscles regroup anticipating another activity that requires their use. Without the rest period the muscles will become fatigued reducing performance levels and leaving the body exposed to injury.
Learn To Listen To Body Signals
The human body gives off signals that show when it is under stress. A tired individual will become rundown and is more likely to suffer from illnesses such as colds. A body that is tired will demand more oxygen to support its function and this causes individuals to yawn. Tired muscles can ache after they are over rotated or placed under stress through prolonged exercise. The application of an ice pack can reduce swelling caused by overexertion and can also soothe aching muscles by accelerating the cool down process. Sweating during exercise and a low consumption of water can lead to dehydration and imbalances in electrolytes such as low levels of sodium. This can lead to common symptoms such as muscle cramps and skin problems but can also create more serious issues such as low blood pressure or a rapid heartbeat.
Use Of Oxygen Increases Free Radicals
As muscles are used during exercise they require oxygen to work fully but a bi product in the process of the muscles using oxygen is the production of free radicals which are associated with diseases such as cancer. Certain super foods contain lots of nutrients that combat free radicals in the body and increased consumption of these foods is recommended to aid the natural process of muscle repair. Salmon is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, nuts provide a great range of vitamins whilst green vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower contain Quercitin and phytonutrients which actually can protect the body against cell damage and reduce inflammation in muscles causes by exercise. By eating after exercise individuals can ensure that the body has increased protection if it is supplied with key nutrients at a point when it has just experienced a high level of stress.
Muscle Type Determines Recovery
If an individual has gone for a long and steady training ride this may place a lesser strain on muscles than a shorter but more intense ride which involve elements of explosive power such as sprinting or climbing. A body with a general muscle type that is weighted towards being able to generate explosive power is likely to require a longer recovery period than a body whcih is used to endurance events at a lower level of intensity. The same consideration must be given when assessing a recovery plan following injury. The higher the intensity of exercise following recovery, the more care is required with the recovery programme. It is so easy to return to an activity feeling great after a long period of injury only to find that the body has a lower level of resistance because of the period of inactivity imposed by the original injury. Care must be taken to build up the intensity of activity to avoid a reccurence of the old injury.
Reducing The Risk Of Injury
It is important to stretch before exercise as this warms up the muscles and reduces the risk of injury caused by placing too great a strain on an unsuspecting muscle. Any recovery period must be relative to the fitness of the individual. An individual starting out in a sport may require more recovery time than an athlete who has competed for several years. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may lead to reduced premiums for life and medical insurance and a sustained increase in fitness levels for individuals may bring favourable developments in any private health insurance comparison. If an individual previously had a poor health record but has a revitalised level of health due to increased exercise and the adoption of a healthy lifestyle this may be reflected by insurance quotations as the factors that drove up premiums are no longer relevant.
Recovery Needed For Future Success
Without factoring in a period of recovery and athlete of any standard will not be able to make significant gains in performance. The desire to train hard should not dominate the need to recover sensibly from any exertion. A healthy lifestyle will ensure that the body has the nutrients required to speed up the recovery process but it is important to maintain the discipline of not performing again without a period sufficient for a full recovery. When the body has been allowed to time to rebuild what has been lost through exercise the body repairs itself in such a way that an individual is more physically suited to their chosen activity or sport.
This was a guest post by Eve Pearce. Please see some of there other articles: