I’ve talked about how important recovery is for injury and trauma and have stressed how dormant rest can have a negative response to our mental and physical wellbeing. In this blog we take a look at why we need to incorporate rest and recovery into our training and sport.
When we train, high levels of microscopic muscle damage occur. When muscle fibres are damaged they become tender, sore and stiff. This damage is commonly referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, as our muscle fibres need to go through this process in order to develop. However, if we don’t implement a recovery plan into our training and just train hard over this damage then there is a risk of injury or over-compensation by other parts of our body.
For example, shin splints are a common complication that can develop from continuously running on tight and over-used muscles. Niggling knees could be telling you that you need to address the tightness of your Illiotibial bands… I could go on. The point I’m trying to make is that if we don’t address ‘rest and recovery’ then we are likely to cause injury.
Remember though…rest and recovery from training is not sitting still.
So what is recovery?
In simple terms, it is the time required for the repair of damage to the body. This includes the restoration of the energy producing enzymes inside the muscle fibres, the carbohydrate stores in the muscle cells and immune system. During recovery, muscles should increase the proteins in their overall structure to improve strength, replenish and increase energy stores and the quantity of enzymes.
Your nutrition and hydration is a vital ingredient to your recovery process, and is a huge subject in its own right, but it’s not that complicated when you start to understand the basics. I would recommend addressing your nutrition to aid muscle recovery.
Flexibility and muscle release is another aspect of our recovery plan that is often under-addressed. Many of us just want to ‘get on’ with the hard work and get the miles in, so we neglect the TLC of our muscles, tendons and ligaments. Massage, stretching, myofascial release, ice baths and light yoga are good for muscle recovery and so aid in the repair of fibres and connective tissues. Again, look at what works for you and include it in your training plan.
We can get very engrossed in our training, it takes a huge amount of focus to train for an event or competition and, for some, it takes over our lives, so planning in social recovery is just as important as the training itself. Taking that ‘rest’ time gives our minds the ability to refocus and creates a healthy distraction.
Finally, don’t forget to include your active recovery. Do something that your body enjoys and gets a positive response from.
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