Recovery Done the Right Way
You know that feeling of invigoration when you have mastered an intense HIIT session, crushed a challenging RIDE, or refined your form in Barre. But as the day progresses, you begin to secretly curse the instructor as the stiffness and muscle pain sets in. Over the next few days your muscles ache, walking may become challenging, and you find your motivation to head back to the gym diminishing. This pain is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) because it often begins between 8 and 72 hours after the activity is completed. This is simply your body telling you that it is now time to rest, repair and rebuild those muscles. As you power through your favourite workouts, you create these tiny micro-tears. As the tears in your muscles heal, it rebuilds and strengthens your body. As important as training is to improving your optimal performance, recovery is where the magic really happens.
Recovery doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t come in the form of a supplement, and it doesn’t mean lounging around all day. Here are 6 simple ways to properly recover to improve your strength, increase your energy and reach your full fitness potential!
1. Get your ZZZ’s
Getting enough sleep is critical in all aspects of life including your fitness. It allows your body time to recover and repair itself and provide the energy needed for your next workout. Getting adequate sleep is simply one of the easiest ways to speed up muscle recovery. Lack of sleep can also increase your risk of injury so start making sleep a priority - we recommend seven to eight hours of quality shut-eye.
2. Replace lost fluids
Another simple but effective way to assist in exercise recovery is by staying hydrated. Water plays a critical role in the repair of muscles in several ways. If you are dehydrated after your workout, you are more likely to experience soreness and it will actually slow down the growth of your muscles. Water also flushes out toxins that are naturally released during exercise. And as you recover, your body repairs your muscles using a process called protein synthesis. When your muscles are well hydrated, it speeds up that process leading to quicker recovery. Finally, water improves your body’s ability to break down food and absorb the nutrients needed to repair your damaged tissues.
3. Refuel your body
Exercise depletes your energy stores, so replenishing those lost calories is vital to tissue repair, improving strength and preparing you for your next workout challenge. Eating a combination of high-quality protein and complex carbohydrates doesn’t have to be complicated. We love the wholesome My Goodness lunch bowls, and the nourishing smoothies with added plant-based protein - they taste great and reboot the recovery process.
4. Just roll with it
Self-myofascial release (SMR), commonly known as foam rolling, is a form of therapy that offers many benefits including counteracting the micro-trauma caused by exercise. SMR targets fascia (the soft tissue portion of the muscles), nerve fibres, organs and your ligaments. The tiny tears that your muscles experience while working out create inflammation, swelling and a calcium build up that is thought to be responsible for the increased pain you feel in the hours and days following your workout. A study published by Medicine & Science followed 20 participants and discovered that SMR effectively reduced muscle soreness and improved range of motion, concluding that foam rolling is an effective tool in post exercise recovery.
5. Active recovery
According to fitness experts, rest days offer not only time for your body to rest and recover but also provide important downtime for your mind. Choosing a day or two a week to work at a lower intensity, as opposed to doing nothing, helps increase recovery by increasing blood flow. This extra circulation delivers a boost of amino acids and oxygen so your muscles and tissues can repair themselves. It also helps flush out waste products like lactic acid that contribute to damage and muscle fatigue.
• Yoga increases flexibility, teaches proper breathing techniques, and promotes blood flow that helps repair your damaged muscle tissues. Try our yin yoga classes, incorporating floor-based poses held for 3-6 min, to revitalize the body's connective tissues and calm your mind.
• Tai chi is a low-impact, mind-body exercise that is perfect for building strength and balance. It’s slow, flowing movements activate your parasympathetic nervous system which helps your body calm down and recover from the stress of intense exercise & daily pressures.
• Swimming is an easy, low-impact activity that allows your body to be weightless, relaxes your joints, and studies show that it improves circulation throughout your muscles. And with summer heating up, active recovery in the pool is a great way to cool off!
• Steady-state cardio is simply a cardio workout that provides a continuous, steady effort (as opposed to an interval cardio workout where your energy output spikes). Any aerobic activity, like walking, running or biking, that is sustained for an extended period of time (20 to 90 minutes) at a fixed intensity qualifies as steady-state training. Elevate your heart rate enough to break a sweat but on a scale of zero to 10 - zero equating to lounging around on the sofa and 10 referring to an all out effort - settle in between four and six.
6. Listen to your body
If you are feeling tired, sore or notice that your performance has decreased, this may be your body telling you that it is time for a break. You know yourself best and your body will let you know what it needs, when it needs it.
Article written by Tonia
Tonia is a BECYCLE member who loves Barre and Yoga classes. She is a freelance writer, blogger, and ethical vegan. When she isn't working or working out, you'll find her exploring the city, finding the best vegan food in Berlin and hanging out with her dog Violet.