The science behind rest & recovery

The science behind rest & recovery

March 10, 2018

When you've been rocket man all week, you're going to need to take an absolute rest day. Training like a rockstar going towards elite athlete status is all cool, but without recovering properly - that's never going to happen. Don't pay off recovery because it is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to continual progress. The following terms & conditions to correct recovery have been scientifically proven by nerds in a lab and published in peer-reviewed journals, so it's not just babble by some guy on the interwebs. Read on if you're keen to know more about recovering effectively...

"Athletes understand the importance of exercise training for optimal performance and improvement. However, rest and recovery is also an important aspect of an exercise program because it allows the body time to repair and strengthen itself in between workouts. It also allows the athlete to recover, both physically and psychologically."

What happens during the recovery period? The body is allowed to adapt to the stress associated with exercise, and provides time for the damaged tissue to repair.

There are two different categories of recovery:

  1. Immediate or short-term recovery – This is the most common form of recovery and occurs within hours after an exercise session or event. Short-term recovery includes low intensity exercise after working out and during the cool down phase.
  2. Long-term recovery – This refers to recovery periods that are built into a seasonal training schedule and may include days or weeks incorporated into an annual athletic program.

Rest: Now we are talking about actual rest, sleep. This is one of the most important ways to get your body to quickly recover from the physical and mental demands of hard training.

Hydration and eating: One of the most vital aspects of both training and recovery is being properly hydrated. And nourishment falls right in line with hydration. Food helps to restore the body’s energy supply, so try to eat good, healthy options at the right windows of time to enhance your performance and recovery.

Massages: Getting a massage helps to loosen up muscles and increase oxygen and blood flow into muscles. Another potential benefit caused by a pain stimulus from certain tissues to the neural network can allow (sub)contracted muscles to relax where they could subconsciously be tensed by the brain.

Contrast therapy: If you are or were an athlete this may be familiar to you, but those who don’t have a facility at their disposal might not use it as frequently. You will be contrasting between an ice bath and a hot shower. You want to be sure to start and end with cold (like an ice bath). Jump in the ice bath for about 45 seconds and then into the hot shower for 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat this three times. The benefits of contrast therapy are to increase blood flow to the muscles.

Ice bath: A familiar process to many, an ice bath causes the blood vessels of the body to constrict, pushing the blood away from the muscle because of the cool temperature. Once you are done and start to warm up, the vessels open up and allow blood flow back into the muscle.

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