So you've decided to go on a health kick. You have planned some very calorie conscious meals, you have booked yourself in for a lot more training sessions than you are used to and now, a week into the program, you are exhausted, sore and have some serious brain fog. This is a great example of someone who is 'not recovering like a pro'.
I'm someone who loves to train most days, however I know how important it is to give back to your body. If you just keep taking from it you are going to end up exhausted and as a result you certainly won't be performing to the best of your ability. So with that in mind, here are my top recovery tips to follow.
Whether your goal is to lose weight, put on weight, fuel for an event or other, remember that nutrition is almost as important as training when it comes recovery. So giving your body the nutrients it needs is imperative. Even if your goal is to lose weight, if you don't eat enough of the right foods, you may find that your body holds onto everything you eat and stores it as fat.
Make sure that you're eating a lot of antioxidant rich foods, such as bright coloured fruit and vegetables, berries and even spices such as turmeric (it's an anti-inflammatory). Also, protein is a must and make sure you are eating carbs. You don't need to be eating white starchy carbs, but quinoa, sweet potato and pumpkin are good examples of carbs to include in your diet.
Regardless of whether you train all the time or if you're more desk bound, it's really important to stretch out your body on a regular basis and I like to do that by adding yoga into my week. If you're someone who does a fair amount of running or resistance training, you may find that you get a lactic acid build up that can make your legs feel like lead and make your muscles feel sore and tight. Yoga can help stretch everything back out, improve your flexibility, mobility and assist with recovery.
Yoga may also help correct some of the negative habitual movement patterns that you find yourself in, (such as hunching at your desk or craning your next while scrolling down your Instagram feed) making it a great option for everyone.
Did you know that sleep is the most important time for your recovery? If you're fairly active, on average your body will need 7-10 hours of sleep per night to help it body to recover physically, mentally and on a hormonal level.
Not getting enough can reap havoc on your body as it can mess with your leptin hormone (the one that tells you when you're full) and Ghrelin (the hormone that tells you when your hungry). That means you eat more and yet don't feel full. No one wants that!
Self Mysofacial release
Myofascial release is a must for anyone who runs or trains in general and you can do this by using foam rolling and trigger ball style products that allow you to use self massage (myofascial release) techniques to lengthen and reduce built up tension in the muscles. These products can help to speed up the recovery process and therefore help you get back to quality training faster. I recommend foam rolling at least 3 times a week along with a targeted mysofacial stretching routine.
Self mysofacial stretching is a targeted way of stretching and releasing tension and trigger points that occur when muscle or connective tissue become stuck together by tightness, therefore restricting movement. This may happen because of injury, repetitive motion, postural imbalances or from spending too much time desk bound.
This can be quite a controversial one, but I for one love compression. Wearing high grade compression gear can help to accelerate the body's natural recovery process, helping you recover to the point of the same or greater performance levels faster. It also promotes blood flow, supports the muscles and boost the recovery process from the get go.
There have been hundreds of studies done on compression and its many benefits when it comes to performance and recovery. In fact a recent study on 11 subjects using a MRI to demonstrate the muscle changes during recovery found significant improvements in enzymes involved in muscle membrane restoration after only one hour of wearing SKINS. I like to wear compression when I am training as I find that it helps reduce my soreness post workout.