How to Incorporate Recovery Into Your Routine
For many of us, we understand that working out, moving, or engaging in physical activity is healthy and that our body needs it to grow and be healthy. However, what we often forget about, is that rest and recovery are also essential parts of any healthy lifestyle. Not only does it help us to re-energize and refuel, but it can also have a positive impact on our physical and mental health. Rest and recovery can help to reduce stress, improve concentration, and boost our overall well-being.
Recovery could look different for each of us, and that's exactly how it should be. For some, it may be actively stretching on their days off or doing yoga, and for others, it could be a day of relaxation. Each individual body functions and recovers a little differently, and our recovery should look different. What should be the same, however, is that we are all practicing recovery as part of our fitness and health routine.
Overall, rest and recovery are essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Let's dive into how you can incorporate recovery into your nutrition, your workout routine, and your days off!
THE ROLE OF NUTRITION
Nutrition plays an essential role in the recovery of the human body after a workout. After a workout, the body needs to replenish the nutrients it has used, repair the damage done to the muscles, and rehydrate. Eating the right foods can help the body rebuild and recover faster.
Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth. Many experts say that eating a solid source of protein within 30 minutes of a workout helps the body recover faster, including (but not limited to) lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, or even a healthy protein shake! The team at ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) states that "to increase muscle mass in combination with physical activity, it is recommended that a person that lifts weights regularly or is training for a running or cycling event eat a range of 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight."
Carbohydrates help the body absorb protein and restore glycogen levels, which is stored energy used by the muscles during workouts. Good sources of carbohydrates are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Fats are important for providing energy and helping the body absorb vitamins. Healthy fat sources include nuts, seeds, and avocados. Read the full article on macronutrients here!
HOW HYDRATION PLAYS A ROLE
Hydration helps our bodies to replenish lost fluids and replace electrolytes, while also aiding in the repair of muscle tissues and flushing out toxins. Proper hydration also helps to reduce muscle soreness, improve energy levels, and speed up the recovery process.
The key to proper hydration starts before you even walk through the gym's front door. Drinking plenty of water to help stay hydrated throughout the day, not just when you hit the gym, will ensure that your body is ready to workout. During a workout, it's important to pay attention to your body's needs and drink water whenever you feel thirsty.
After a workout, it's important to replenish your body's fluids and electrolytes. Water is the best choice for hydration, but sports drinks can also be beneficial due to their electrolyte content. Eating healthy snacks and meals after a workout can also help to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes.
ACTIVE VS PASSIVE
Active Recovery happens when you use a low-intensity and low-impact activity to recover from your high-intensity workouts. Active recovery can help keep your body moving, which helps increase blood flow, reduce soreness, and improve your flexibility. Popular methods of active recovery include walking, yoga, cycling, hiking, or swimming.
Passive Recovery happens during times of little or no movement (i.e. sleep, getting a massage, or resting on the couch).
Ultimately, both active and passive recovery are important, and it’s important to find the right balance between the two. Your utilization of BOTH can make a major difference in your body's ability to recover optimally from your workout.
METHODS OF RECOVERY - POST WORKOUT
Recovery should also be part of your time in the gym. While many people tend to just walk out or head to the locker room after their final exercise, some post-workout recovery can help increase your performance and boost your recovery efforts as a whole. Here is a list of methods of physical recovery one can try after your next workout:
Static stretching - Stretching helps to increase flexibility, promotes recovery, and also reduces the risk of injury. Static stretching is always best reserved for after a workout, whereas dynamic stretching (or an active warmup) should be used before a workout.
Foam rolling - Foam rolling helps to break up adhesions (aka muscle knots) in your muscle tissue, allowing them to relax and heal. Relieving muscle knots can also help with our flexibility and range of motion.
Heat therapy - Heat therapy can help reduce muscle tension and pain.
Ice bath - Taking a cold bath after a workout can help reduce inflammation and soreness. While no official recommendations on how to take an ice bath currently exist, most practitioners spend 5-10 minutes in 50-59 degree water.
Massage or Massage Chair- A massage can help to loosen tight muscles and improve circulation.
Eating a nutritious meal - Eating a nutritious meal after a workout will help replenish your energy and provide your body with the nutrients it needs to recover.
Sleep - Getting enough rest is essential for the body to recover.
Hydration - Staying hydrated is important for your body to function properly and to aid in the recovery process.
After a workout, your body needs time to recover. That’s why it’s important to incorporate post-workout recovery into your routine. Whether that’s stretching, foam rolling, or even getting a massage, taking time to rest and repair your body after a workout can help you maximize the benefits of your workout and prevent injuries in the future. Taking the time to properly recover from your workouts can help you reach your fitness goals faster and more effectively.
So remember to take care of yourself and give your body the rest it needs.
Marie Basile, L., MFA. (2022, August 30). 6 Health Benefits of Ice Baths. GoodRx Health. Retrieved March 8, 2023, from https://www.goodrx.com/well-being/alternative-treatments/6-ice-bath-benefits
Cronkleton, E. (2020, June 15). 11 Steps to Follow for a Post-Workout Routine That Gets Results. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/what-to-do-after-working-out
Donna Cataldo, Ph.D. and Matthew Blair, B.S.. (2015). Protein Intake for Optimal Muscle Maintenance. In https://www.acsm.org. American College of Sports Medicine Consumer Information Committee. Retrieved March 8, 2023, from https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/protein-intake-for-optimal-muscle-maintenance.pdf