If you're an active person, the last thing you want is an injury or intense pain that keeps you from getting your exercise in. It's crucial that you don't overlook or understate the recovery process so you protect your muscles from injury and continue your high-intensity workouts.
Ignoring performance recovery time will leave you open to fatigue, poor performance, increased injuries, and burnout.
What is performance recovery? Let's break it down so you can maintain your active lifestyle and give your body what it needs to thrive.
Istvan Bayli, a world leader in athlete development, says, "there is no such thing as over-training. There is only under-recovering."
High-intensity workouts and hardcore training techniques have taken over the fitness world. If you're an athlete, you especially know how it feels to push your body to its edge. But is that wrong?
As Bayli said, over-training isn't the problem. The problem is ignoring proper performance recovery. It's completely possible to live an active lifestyle and push your body; however, you also need to give your body what it needs to recover.
Focusing on recovery will train your body to recover faster and perform better in the long run.
So what is performance recovery? Simply put, it's the process of your body recovering from strenuous activity. The type of recovery you need will depend on the activity you do and which muscles, joints, and connective tissues are damaged.
If you're a runner, you need to focus on restoring the structural proteins that are torn apart from the high-impact of your run. For lower impact workouts like cycling or swimming, you need to focus on recovering the muscles that become strained in those particular movements.
The kind of recovery you need may differ based on the activity, but the most important thing is that your recovery happens within 24 hours of your workout.
Post-Workout Recovery Steps
When it comes to recovery, remember this basic process: cool down, stretch, hydrate, and restore nutrients. Within 30 minutes of your workout, you should do these four things.
Let's break them down:
Cooldown: continue moving, but at a slower pace, after you finish your workout. This gives your body time to return to a normal heart rate and will help remove lactic acid from your muscles. A five to ten-minute brisk walk is a great way to cool down.
Stretch: immediately after the cool down, begin stretching. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds to counteract muscle tension and promote flexibility.
Replace fluids: make up for the fluids you lost during your workout by hydrating immediately after you finish.
Restore nutrients: the most important aspect of recovering is refueling the energy stores that were depleted during aerobic exercise. Eat something within 30 minutes of your workout that includes protein and carbohydrates.
This basic process should be completed immediately after your workout for the best results. There are also things you can do to speed up recovery during the rest of your day, like wearing compression garments, massaging stiff muscles, and resting.
You should also prioritize a good night's sleep to get the most out of performance recovery since most tissue growth and repairs happen during sleep.
Injured? Core Muscle Recovery Injury Time Breakdown
If you do happen to injure yourself while working out, it's important to give your muscles enough time to fully recover before beginning high-intensity exercises again.
Different muscle groups require different recovery times. The common muscles that you could strain are the abdominals, biceps, lumbar muscles, hamstrings, neck, upper back, lower back, triceps, chest, and obliques.
Symptoms of a muscle sprain include swelling, bruising, pain, a weakening, or inability to use the muscle normally.
Depending on the severity of the core muscle injury or strain, muscle recovery can take a few days or a few weeks. For example, if you strain your lower back, it will likely take less time since those muscles get more blood circulation and can heal faster. Other areas, like your neck or legs, may take longer.
The most important thing to do when you get a strain or injury is to rest those muscles for at least a few days. Continuing to work out can put more stress on the muscles and lead to a more serious injury.
Elevating the strained muscle will also help with swelling and reducing recovery time.
After an injury, ease back into your workouts slowly. You might want to push past the pain and get back to your active lifestyle; however, pushing it could result in a deeper tear and have lasting effects.
If your muscle strain does not heal on its own in a few weeks, or if you have a more serious injury, consult your doctor.
Nutrients for Performance Recovery
There are several helpful nutrients that you should prioritize in your recovery process. For instance, tart cherries, which help your body recover quicker by reducing inflammation caused by your workout.
For a great source of tart cherry extract, pick up our Beet Boost from our products page. Beets make a great complement to tart cherries since they are high in nitrates, which convert to nitric oxide in your body.
Nitric oxide increases blood flow, which promotes a quicker recovery time as well. Try these four drinks that directly boost nitric oxide.
The right nutrients can make a huge difference in the quality and speed of your post-workout recovery.
Prioritize Performance Recovery for a Better Workout
You don't have to slow down your training to protect your muscles. Simply focus on effective performance recovery so you can continue to workout at the pace you love.
What is performance recovery? It's allowing your muscles the time to recover between workouts to avoid injury. Proper performance recovery includes a cool down, some light stretching, rehydrating, and refueling with the right nutrients after each workout.
It's also important that you pay attention to strains and injuries and give your muscles time to fully recover before doing more high-intensity workouts.
For a nutrient-dense recovery boost that is perfect for post-workout recovery, check out our Beet Boost.