4 Quick Tips for Recovering After Workouts and Sports
Recovery After Exercise, Tips and Tricks
Football, indoor volleyball, soccer, tennis and cross country seasons have begun. As winter creeps up, we’ll also see sports such as basketball, snowboarding and skiing. And don’t forget the many other sports that are played throughout the year and those intense workouts that many of us do. With the cooler weather and so many sporting activities in season, we thought we’d share with you four great ways to recover after a workout, game, or competition. These things will help you reduce soreness and prevent injury.
The first and most logical way to recover from sporting activity is to stretch. Stretch before sporting practices and competitions and then always stretch and cool down afterward. Stretching offers many benefits to athletes as it helps to develop a full range of motion, increases flexibility, improves performance, and it can help athletes avoid injury.
Stretching also reduces soreness because it releases lactic acid buildup (which is the cause of soreness) for up to three days after a hard workout. Stretching also assists in preventing muscle cramps and allows for the other three steps of recovery to work optimally.
Compression and Massage
Muscle compression is essentially a form of sports massage. It can be done in many ways but a common technique uses a type of roller. Using this roller massage technique on your legs and body after particularly tough workouts and once a week will move lactic acid and other waste fluids out of the muscles. This can help reduce sore and tight spots throughout the body.
A general full body massage is recommended once a month to work in conjunction with stretching and compression. This also reduces soreness, tension and fluids in the muscles, allowing for better muscle building and elasticity when playing a sport.
LiveStrong.com has a great article discussing the Benefits of Sports Massage Therapy.
Hydrotherapy is an innovative way to assist in the recovery process through water. Hydrotherapy for sports recovery comes in two stages, hot and cold treatments. The first treatment is generally done using ice baths. Ice baths or other cold water therapies help to reduce swelling in overworked muscle areas after intense workouts or activities. Cold water constricts blood flow, therefore reducing swelling, which allows for quicker muscle recovery.
The second step of hydrotherapy is to apply warm or hot water treatments. Spas and custom hot tubs are used to speed recovery times. Heat and jetted water in the hot tub assists in reducing muscle spasms, creating softer muscle tissue and helps alleviate joint stiffness. Portable spa tubs or hot tubs help athletes also greatly improve circulation through heat and massage, taking the tension off of muscles and aiding in post-sport muscular recovery.
The Australian Governments Sports Commission recommends hydrotherapy for recovery stating: “There is now increasing scientific evidence supporting the benefits of recovery (particularly hydrotherapy) to enhance exercise performance in a number of domains.”
One side benefit of using hydrotherapy, especially hydrotherapy in a hot tub, is that it can improve your sleep – which leads to our last tip…
Sleep may seem to be an obvious element for post-workout recovery but many athletes (especially those participating in high school athletics) do not receive proper amounts of sleep and it can show. Lack of adequate sleep can have a dramatic effect on both sports performance and recovery times.
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule (average amount of hours per night, regular schedule of sleep and wake up times) allows the body to regenerate and supply a growth hormone to your body that allows for tissue growth and finalizes the repairing process.
A study published in 2009 by Cheri Mah of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory found that in a five week period, female tennis players who were able to increase the amount of sleep they received experienced more accurate shots, faster sprint times and an overall increase in mood and athletic performance.
No matter the sport or the age of the participant, these four tips for post-sports recovery will lead to less pain, better sports performance, fewer and less severe injuries, and faster recovery times.