Physical recovery is a very complex subject, involving several aspects of life. It has also elicited many myths and misconceptions still prevalent today.
Five elements to implement for proper recovery
Whether it involves working out, physical activity or physical labour, proper recovery is essential to improve performance and minimize the risks of injury. Here are the five elements to focus on to achieve it.
1. Do not stretch immediately after a workout!
If there is a deeply rooted myth in the world of physical fitness, it is certainly the one surrounding stretching. It is generally done at the end of a workout, with the objective of reducing muscle soreness and speeding up recovery.
Unfortunately, stretching a muscle immediately after physical exertion carries no benefits for recovery. On the contrary, it increases muscle soreness instead.
Stretching is effective, but to maintain and increase flexibility. It is useless in reducing muscle soreness.
2. Eat a snack or meal after a workout, but not just anything goes!
Eating well after a workout is essential. Ideally, a meal containing protein and carbohydrates should be eaten within an hour after physical activity.
However, if the workout ends several hours before a meal, it would be better to eat a well-suited snack to help the body repair micro-tears and store up energy. This strategy is key if you have another workout planned in the next 24 hours.
A snack should contain:
- a minimum of 15 g of protein
- little or no fat
- a variable amount of carbohydrates or sugar depending on the intensity of the workout and the individual
An athlete who has completed an intense workout might need a bigger snack (with more carbohydrates and protein). The specialized advice of a kinesiologist and nutritionist would then be needed.
Here are a few examples of snacks:
- Greek yogurt with field berries
- low-fat cheese and a banana
- roasted chickpeas and maple syrup
- oatmeal with protein powder
3. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is an element that is often overlooked; yet it is essential to the body’s recovery. From the outset, poor sleep causes less-than-optimal recovery, reduces physical ability and increases the risks of injury. Poor sleep can also disrupt appetite and cause weight gain.
On average, an adult should sleep between seven to nine hours a night, and avoid frequent waking.
4. Better managing stress
Stress can be useful to help you better respond in various situations. However, when it is excessive or chronic, it is not an ally in helping you to recover physically. It causes the secretion of certain hormones that hamper the body’s recovery process. It can also be detrimental to a good night’s sleep. The good news is that physical activity can help to reduce stress!
5. Stay well hydrated
Fluid loss occurs mainly through the skin after physical exertion. This fluid must be replaced for proper recovery and to avoid certain discomforts such as:
- decreased energy
- nausea, and
To calculate the amount of fluid you should drink for proper recovery, you have to weigh yourself before and after physical activity. The weight difference in kilograms x 1.5 will give you the amount of fluid you should drink in the hours following physical activity.
For additional advice, speak to a kinesiologist or your pharmacist. They can direct you to the appropriate websites.