Proper recovery from a workout is crucial to sustaining a long-term workout plan. During exercise, the body undergoes a controlled amount of stress. Tissues in our body need this stress in order to improve their function and your performance. The muscles undergo “micro-trauma” due to the activity. During the recovery period, this is when the body will build itself back up stronger than it was before.
The following tips can help you attain maximum benefit from your workout and help reduce the risk of developing an injury.
Stretching – The purpose of stretching is to maintain the flexibility of tissues that are tight or stiff from an activity or a prolonged position.
Static, or isolated stretching is holding a stretch position for a long period of time. (Example: A static hamstring stretch would be when you sit on the ground with one leg pointing outward and you simply reach for your toes and hold for at least 30 seconds.)
Dynamic stretching is using movement to combine muscle groups (Example: A dynamic stretch for the hamstring would be walking toe crouches, as you bend down and grab your toe with every step for 2-3 seconds).
Foam rolling is a type of self-mobilization and massage. (Example: To foam roll the hamstring muscle, you simply put a foam roller under your legs and let the weight of your body rest on top of the foam roller and gently move along the muscle to allow the knots to be pushed out.) A general rule for stretching is to use dynamic stretching before exercise, static stretching after exercise, and foam rolling throughout.
Refueling (Hydration & Nutrition) – In order to optimize performance, you want to make sure you’re properly fueling before exercise, as well as during your recovery. Our bodies rely upon a well-balanced array of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to aid in rebuilding the parts of our body that have been stressed during exercise. Water is essential to help replace the fluids that you lost during activity, as well as it helps regulate temperature, maintain healthy joints, and eliminate wastes that build up in your system during activity.
RICE- Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation- To be used if you have pain or swelling following exercise, particularly if it’s in a joint like the knee, ankle, or shoulder. These are ways to help decrease inflammation and pain.
Cross Training – Even if you love to run, your body may not like you running 7 days/week. Cross training allows the body to build a different muscle group and a momentary rest for those muscles used in our primary exercise.
Sleeping – Our body’s prime opportunity to recover is when we’re sleeping. The CDC recommends, in general, teens have 9-10 hours of sleep and adults 7-8 hours of sleep each night. This is especially important if you are demanding more of your body through regular exercise or stressful daily activities.
A physical therapist is trained to help design an individualized program for you and will be able to work with you to provide guidelines and strategies to ensure that you recover in the most effective way.