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Play hard, recover harder!

All Areas > Health & Beauty > Looking Good, Feeling Great

Author: Will Mbanga, Posted: Monday, 24th February 2020, 09:00

Recovery is the most underrated aspect of any athlete or fitness enthusiast’s preparation for optimum performance.

Striking the right balance between training and recovery has a major influence on your fitness and athletic performance. Neglecting this principle is detrimental to your fitness and overall health.

Managing your recovery process and active recovery workouts are just as important as your main training days.

Instead of dealing with the cumulative effects of fatigue and muscle soreness by popping painkillers and “sucking it up”, try using science and common sense to help your body feel better and recover faster.

By taking the time you need to rest, recover and treat your body well, you will reap the benefits in your health, performance and later years. Recovery and muscle regeneration are critical elements of the training week and fall into two main categories:

• Active recovery: low intensity training or movement geared toward stimulating the muscles and CV system without unduly stressing them.

• Passive recovery: using an external stimulus to enable the muscles and CV system to recover.

When it comes to addressing the recovery and performance equation, lifestyle factors (sleep, nutrition, hydration, stress, etc.) are probably the most significant factors to consider, as so many of us are stressed at work (and home!), eat and drink poorly, and don’t get enough sleep.

Sleep

Sleep is the period in which the biggest physiological and psychological restoration takes place; the harder your training program, and the more stressful your life is, the longer your sleep duration should be.

Research suggests that sleep deprivation can have a significant negative effect on athletic performance and recovery because it affects the whole body and all its systems.

Nutrition

It is vital athletes eat a balanced and regular diet as part of their recovery plan, as this aims to restore the energy stores in muscles. Sports drinks are also a good option as they are easily absorbed and help with hydration as well – just watch the sugar content! Any post-training snacks should include carbohydrates and protein – both 1-2g per kg of body weight.

Hydration

Hydration is vital for performance and optimal health. One way to tell if you are well hydrated is if your urine is clear or very pale – just be aware that changes in diet can also affect urine colour. For example, beetroot can turn it reddish, berrocca can make it yellow, etc.

There are many guidelines and recommendations on timing and volume of water consumption, but most important is finding a method that meets your unique needs.

Stress


We all suffer from varying degrees of stress depending on our personal circumstances, and steps should be taken to monitor these levels. When necessary, early intervention via your GP, a Sport Psychologist, Life Coach or Counselling Scheme is highly recommended.

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