During exercise, the body experiences micro-damage to tissue, inflammation, accumulation of metabolic waste products, reduced fuel stores and neural fatigue. Although these implications sound detrimental, they are in fact a necessary process as long as rest and recovery takes place afterwards.
When we allow ourselves sufficient recovery time, it ensures that we restore both physiological and psychological function. This reduces the risk of developing overuse injuries and increases the amount and quality of training, all of which results in improved performance.
There is a direct relationship between the amount of recovery needed and an individual’s stress and fatigue levels. Recovery is most important when stress and fatigue is high. Likewise, if there is minimal stress and fatigue, then recovery can be minimal.
Recovery after sport can depend on a wide range of factors, however sleep and nutrition are the most important factors to ensure the body reaches homeostasis (balance) again after exercise.
Sleep is the body’s number one recovery strategy. It is important that each person acknowledges their own needs as the amount of sleep each person requires is highly individual. On average, seven to eight hours is the standard amount of sleep necessary for most people however young people and people who exercise rigorously are likely to need more.
Inadequate sleep has been shown to affect reaction time, coordination, concentration, memory, motivation, mood and immune function. If sleep is affected there are several ways that you can try to improve your sleep. It is important to:
- Create good habits such as going to sleep and waking at similar times, and having a set routine prior to bed
- Create a comfortable environment in your bedroom that is cool, dark and quiet
- Limit television watching and use of electronic devices in bed. This will help your body associate bed with sleep
- Limit and/or avoid caffeinated drinks later in the day.
Nutrition is the other key element for recovery and is important within 30 minutes after exercise. The food you consume should include carbohydrate for energy replacement, protein for muscle recovery and muscle repair, and fluid for rehydration.
- Rice cake with tuna
- Greek yoghurt with berries and/or almonds, or
- Protein shake if you’re limited on time.
Other factors to consider in your recovery include appropriate warm down, stretching, massage, use of compression garments, hydrotherapy and psychological recovery.
Get in touch to find out how the team at Capital Clinic Physiotherapy can help you in your recovery.