Taking time for recovery is very important to reach your fitness goals because rest is needed to adapt and allow you to maximise your performances. If a person does not have adequate recovery, it can lead to smaller adaptations and over-training. Overtraining leads to poor performances as well as regressions in fitness levels and strength levels, so it's pivotal to include methods that help the recovery process.
What are the different recovery methods?
There are a few different methods that can aid the recovery process, and all of these can help ensure adequate recovery has taken place.
1. Cool down sessions
A cool down session is a lower intensity session that would directly follow a high intensity session such as walking or jogging, immediately after weight training or sprinting sessions. Such sessions can assist with lactate clearance as well as reducing the risk of minor injuries post exercise. For instance, doing a lower intensity walk or a jog will help to gradually bring down the body temperature and heart rate. These winding down movements aid the immune system, whereas an abrupt decrease would bring about a higher risk for minor injuries post exercise. To make the cool down even more effective, add in some light stretching of the muscles trained. Stretching will help relax the muscles and reduce the feeling of delayed onset muscle soreness. Remember that when doing a cool down session that’s combined with stretching, aim to do it for 5-15 minutes at the end of the training session.
2. Cold water immersion
Cold water immersion involves either immersing your full body or half of it into a bathtub of cold water. Half body is for those feeling uncomfortable with immersing their full body. The temperature of the water should be between 11-15 degrees celsius, stay in it for the total of 10-15 minutes. The cold water will reduce the feeling of pain and muscle damage markers, subsequently minimizing the feeling of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The cold can also assist with reducing the feelings of fatigue.
Massages can help relieve tension or muscle pain in your body. There are varying massage techniques that one can go for to help with recovery, including a swedish massage, a sports massage which combines different techniques in one, or Chinese traditional massage, and myotherapy massage. These techniques will help reduce the feeling of DOMS and the clearance of lactate from the body.
4. Recovery or “Rest” days
Recovery or rest days should follow after a day of high intensity training. You could do a lower intensity session on this day such as aqua walking or a jog or even a swim. A lower intensity session helps increase blood flow, this will increase nutrient delivery that will aid the recovery process. This type of recovery method is very good for someone that has to keep active every single day, but cannot manage consecutive days of high intensity sessions.
5. Putting this into play
You should definitely utilise some sort of recovery method to help the recovery process, because the faster you recover, the faster you adapt and that can lead to seeing better results. It's best practice to find a recovery method that works best for you or even using a combination of different methods to help you recover as quickly as you possibly can. Try to think of the recovery sessions as part of your training schedule, the recovery method should integrate into your training and not be seen as a separate session.
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