Strenuous sports activity places an incredible toll on the body, way beyond the surface pain of fatigue and next-day muscle soreness. In order to push your body forwards, you must first stop it going backwards as a natural consequence of physical stress.
This process of getting yourself out of reverse is called recovery. Shortening and optimizing your recovery period is vital for achieving your goals.
Sports Nutrition for Muscle Recovery
There are four important times in which Sports Nutrition can be used to create the optimum environment for muscle recovery:
- PRE TRAINING Research increasingly shows that what you eat prior to exercise has a strong impact on recovery afterwards. The 60-90 minute window pre-exercise is ideal for nutrition and supplementation, giving your recovery the head start it needs.
- POST TRAINING Within the first 30 minutes after exercise, the body’s cells are most sensitive to nutrient uptake, following exertion and physical stress. Hormones important for growth and nutrient transport are also at peak levels, creating an environment for anabolism (tissue growth and repair)
- DOWN TIME Adequate rest periods between exercise or performance sessions are vital for enabling the recovery process to kick in. Overtraining, or lack of rest, leads to muscle wastage because recovery has been limited. Regulating your meals evenly throughout this period is vital for creating an anti-catabolic environment.
- SLEEP The body replenishes itself during deep sleep, releasing growth hormone which triggers the repair and regeneration of muscle cells. Pre-bedtime feeding is important for maximum nutrient availability during the 7-8 hour fast period that is the sleep phase.
Tips For Recovery On The Day of A Big Run
- First 10 minutes – walk around at a comfortable rate until your breath is close to normal. Then get changed into fresh cloths to help get your body temperature back to normal.
- 10 to 20 minutes – time to stretch and target those aches and pains while your muscles are still warm. Make sure you are familiar with some stretches for your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors. If you can find the free massage tents, go ahead and relax, you deserve it. Massage will help speed up your recovery by relaxing the muscles and releasing chemicals such as lactic acid.
- 30 to 60 minutes – time to re-hydrate and refuel. Hopefully you will have had plenty to drink along the way. But your body will still be wanting some more hydration with either water, electrolytes or consider a low-fat milkshake. Time to include a protein and carbohydrate rich snack or meal to help with muscle repair and glycogen replenishment.
- Rest of the day – rest and relax. If you are running with friends or colleagues, the pub might seem enticing. It’s probably one of the worst times to drink alcohol. Alcohol will only dehydrate you more and leave you more fatigued for many days after.
- Rest of the week -consider another massage and nurture yourself.
Post Training Supplements
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