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When you are working so hard to be at your best, this is not the outcome you want. A poorly planned week with insufficient recovery can mean ineffective training. Therefore, it is important to get your head around the crucial role of recovery in performance.
Effective recovery techniques are essential for the body to repair and rebuild while reducing the risk of injury. To ensure you can perform at your best, make time for these 5 aspects of recovery:
1. Fluid replacement
Studies show that many athletes don’t drink enough fluids during or after training. In fact, inadequate fluids on a single day can result in impaired performance for up to 2-3 days. This is seen to increase when there is limited recovery and rehydration time between training sessions. It is recommended that an average adult drinks 2-3 litres of water per day. The Australian Institute of Sport recommends that athletes should aim to consume 125-150% of their estimated fluid losses in addition to that amount within 4-6 hours of exercise.
After extended training sessions, make sure to include electrolytes, like sodium in your post workout hydration.
2. Pre/post performance fuel
What you eat before and after your training significantly effects not only the intensity of the session, but also the training effect to be gained afterwards. An intense training session, poorly fuelled, can lead to fatigue, injury and poor muscle adaptation. Fuel becomes especially important when you complete two or more training sessions within 24 hours. Taking measures to ensure sufficient recovery nutrition is shown to support immune function, reduce fatigue, promote muscle repair and growth and it also reduces the Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
3. Active recovery
Research has found that active recovery helps to reduce an athlete’s overall recovery time and improve future performance. An active recovery day involves training at a lower volume and intensity in comparison to that of a normal training session. A training reduction of approximately 30% is suggested to be beneficial, promoting increased blood flow to fatigued muscle tissue without any additional stress. An active recovery day helps to reduce DOMS through the removal of waste products post-exercise, improves range of motion and helps with motor control. Keeping active on a rest day is thought to even have a positive psychological effect through the release of endorphins elevating mood and promoting happiness.
4. Rest – Sleep
Sleep is a major player in recovery that often gets neglected. The quality and amount of sleep athletes get is key to a winning performance. Good quality sleep is found to play a part in improving reaction times, motor function, motivation, focus, stress regulation, muscle tissue recovery, memory and fuel utilisation. Therefore, not surprisingly, a lack of sleep increases the risk of injury, reduces immune function, increases stress and promotes weight gain.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Aim for 8+ hours of sleep per night for sufficient recovery.
5. Avoid overtraining
Whether you’re an athlete or a fitness fanatic, it’s easy to get carried away with training while you are working towards a meaningful goal. However if you don’t allow time for proper recovery between sessions you are wasting your time (not to mention significantly increasing the risk of injury and burnout). Plan your week to include at least one active rest day and put your feet up knowing that your body will thank you for it!
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