The Fundamentals: 4 Keys To Recovery
Prioritise these simple steps between workouts and you'll be more likely to want to come back for more.
Everyone needs time to recover. It's when your muscles repair and rebuild and your mind rests and resets. "It's not just downtime, it's a critical component of any training programme", says Sue Falsone, a board-certified clinical specialist in sports physiotherapy and a Nike Performance Council member.
Here, Falsone shares four fundamental ways to recover after every workout so your body and mind are prepared for the next one.
- Move and Get Loose
Immediately after your workout, spend a couple of minutes stretching to improve circulation and flexibility. Use a foam roller or lacrosse ball on achy spots to reduce post-workout soreness. You might consider a massage (even a non-professional one from a partner), which does all of that and stimulates the release of the "feel-good" hormone oxytocin.
- Eat and Drink
Fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy fats provide the building blocks your body needs to repair itself. You also need electrolytes. These trace minerals, such as magnesium and selenium, are vital. Your body loses them whenever you sweat; replenish them with coconut water, bananas or certain low-sugar supplements.
- Rest and Breathe Deeply
When you're training hard, you're using your sympathetic nervous system, meaning you're in fight-or-flight mode. But recovery can happen only when you're using your parasympathetic system, or your rest-and-digest state. Breath-based meditation can flip that switch. After a workout, try this exercise: Breathe in for a count of four, hold for four, exhale for four and hold again for four, then repeat the whole process three more times.
- Get Good Sleep
While you sleep, your body produces HGH, the growth hormone that helps regulate body composition and metabolism. Another hormone called cortisol helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. It can energise you in the morning, but it can also keep you awake at night if you're out of rhythm. To keep these hormones in balance, aim to go to bed at the same time each night and get at least seven hours of sleep.