Work Hard… Recover Harder

An information rich multimedia world overloads us with health advice coming from all directions. Its particularly easy to dismiss current concepts in exercise science and say they’re just for athletes.

However…. ‘Performance Recovery’ is a term thrown around with increasing momentum and Australian Scientists are at the forefront of its emergence.

As compression tights and protein shakes hit consumer shelves, tabloids post images of footballers wading waist deep in ocean water while mainstream media runs with the vogue.

The essence of ‘performance recovery’ is to allow for replenishment of depleted energy stores and repair of damaged tissues, a natural process, however using recovery techniques speeds this process towards an optimal physiological state.

Putting it simply, leaving your body in a much better state the next day and able to exercise / play harder – giving wings to the cycle of improving fitness.

Sleep

Sleep is the most forgotten and underrated form of recovery. Remarkably one  has study shown a performance reduction of 8% with only one night of sleep deprivation. Good quality sleep allows the adequate release of hormones vital for muscle regeneration and glycogen repletion, essential in the body’s natural recovery process.

Nutrition 

The key to effectiveness of performance nutrition is timing and relevance. Research shows that taking in carbohydrates and protein within the first hour enhances rapid glycogen repletion. Be guided by your weight and exercise load for optimal re-fueling.

Amid all this science however, one can’t go past the wise words of Dr Louise Burke you don’t necessarily need expensive recovery formulas if you have access to quality protein sources in regular food.

Hydration

Its no secret that dehydration reduces performance. Further to this, appropriate hydration one day limits damage facilitating recovery for the next session. Again, be guided with relevance to your activity.

Hydrotherapy

Cold water immersion or typically known as an ‘ice bath’ and contrast (hot/cold) water therapy both have proven recovery benefits. It is also especially relevant in the heat to restore optimal core body temperature.

Rest / Elevate

In any busy working life rest after exercise is not always practical, so use your creativity finding small opportunities in your daily routine. Don’t be afraid to hide a stool under your desk and prop the legs up after your morning / lunchtime workout, enhancing blood flow return and giving your hamstrings at the same time.

Compression

Significant evidence advocates the wearing of compression garments in running and cycling. Nobody has to know when you pull on a pair of compression tights or socks under your work suit!

Preparation

Plan recovery strategies in advance, pack, shop or even schedule sleep with the logistics of your exercise sessions in mind. For example, find individual portions of food / drink that can be stored at work or easily and consumed on the go, have your exercise kit always packed to include accessible forms of nutrition.

Recovery is by no means an elite term. Indeed research is centered in the elite performance arena but extrapolated principles can work perfectly in your field of play. No one recovery modality will make the ultimate difference, however combining a few strategies into your routine can get you noticeably bouncing back with the capacity to string sessions together better than ever.

In short… recover, regenerate and rediscover your potential!