Want some tips from the top athletes on how to improve your own fitness and athletic performances? One tip is having a good recovery after a session. Recovery is a missing component in an athlete's pursuit of a better performance. By exploring recovery techniques you can make a massive different in both your performance and fitness.
Recovery: the importance of a warm-down
A good post-exercise routine is essential to help the body recover and prevent injury. While everyone is different some basic principles that the top athletes use can be transferred to you:
An active recovery
Cooling down with light exercise, such as jogging/walking for 10+min. This helps reduce waste products from the muscles. Jumping into the car for the drive home straight after a workout doesn't help the body. Try an active recovery for injury prevention.
Stretches for major muscle groups (quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, etc). Spending some time stretching after a workout will make a big difference to your next session.
Re-hydrate with water or sports drink immediately post-match & throughout the day.
Replace lost energy. Eat a small snack high in carbs (eg. sandwich, fruit, muesli bar) straight after the session, then have a bigger meal with carbs and a bit of protein later on (ideally within 2hrs of the session). Muscles need carbos and fluids immediately after exercise to help with their recovery.
For example, as an AFL team finishes the match and walks off into the change room there is a team of people ready to help with their warm-down. Athletes combine spinning on stationary bikes, to food/drinks tables, to hot/cold baths, to massage, to stretching sessions etc. While all these might not be practical for you why not write down a warm-down routine to help you in this process. By developing a warm-down routine you can dramatically reduce your chance of injury and help your muscles recover ready for the next session or match.
By chatting to your coach of fitness professional you can fine tune this procedure to suit your own sport or exercise.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor.
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover.html