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The recovery process

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Author: Will Mbanga, Posted: Friday, 20th March 2020, 09:00

Following on from last month’s articles where we looked at some conceptual issues around recovery, this article is geared toward helping you with a reference point to manage a recovery routine to optimise your health and wellness.

Cool down

The recovery process begins as soon as you have completed a training session or physical activity, and starts with your cool down. This is a vital part of the recovery process, as it promotes the distribution of oxygenated blood around the body and helps to restore a ‘normal’ joint range of motion and length-tension in muscles.

It is also an ideal time to review the session and get feedback from your body. What felt good, and what could be improved in your next session?

Alcohol

The next thing to manage for optimal recovery is your alcohol intake. If you enjoy a drink or two then you’re probably fine, but regular bouts of heavy drinking will play havoc with your recovery and overall health. Alcohol reduces protein synthesis in the body, along with levels of certain vitamins, while promoting dehydration.

A worst-case scenario is heavy drinking after a game or training, with poor food intake and only a few hours’ sleep. Combining the dehydration and energy sapping effects of high intensity activity with a high volume of alcohol and lack of sleep has a massive negative influence on your recovery process.

The 100-point Recovery Checklist is easy to build into a busy routine and gives you tangible, measurable data to back up how you actually feel. The following strategies will help you to recover after exercise.

Light exercise: Tai chi, Yoga, a walk, run, cycle, swim, row, weights circuit or cardio class at 45-55% of your maximum heart rate (MHR).
Type of recovery: Active
Points: 10

Sleep: eight hours is optimum.
Type of recovery: Passive
Points: 5

Hydration: thirst isn’t a good indicator of fluid needs – if you are thirsty then you’re too late! Urine colour can be a useful indicator.
Type of recovery: Passive
Points: 5

Nutrition: three healthy meals per day according to your needs. For example, five servings of fruit and veg, all meals to include protein and/or carbohydrates, reduce processed foods and alcohol!
Type of recovery: Passive
Points: 5

Foam rolling or active isolated stretching: complete a full body foam rolling session – calf, hamstring, Piriformis, IT Band, quads, lower back and adductors (1-2 minutes each).
Type of recovery: Passive
Points: 5

Flexibility session: complete a full body stretch combining passive and, where possible, assisted stretches. Hold each stretch for 40-50 seconds.
Type of recovery: Active
Points: 10

Contrast showers: change the temperature of your shower throughout, alternating 30 seconds cold/30 seconds hot.
Type of recovery: Passive
Points: 10

Massage: 45-60 minute sport or deep tissue massage.
Type of recovery: Passive
Points: 5

Aim to accumulate a minimum of 100 points over a seven day period by doing a combination of the strategies. You should find it enhances the quality of your training sessions.

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