Love your recovery!

If you want to get better and fitter at your chosen sport, whether you're a runner, cyclist, CrossFitter or boxer, you can't just focus on your training plan - you must love your recovery too. How you rest and recover are key to success as your body must be given the chance to refuel, repair and then go again, otherwise you'll risk exhaustion, muscular trauma and injury.

Here are eight tips on how to recover well:

  1. If you feel tired or sluggish, don’t train or train very, very easily. Your body is telling you something for a reason!
  2. Get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep per night to aid recovery and subsequent performance. Poor sleep can impair muscle recovery, reduce alertness and increase stress.
  3. Hydrate! Drink a glass of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise. This is in addition to plenty of fluids before and during exercise.
  4. Take at least 20 grams of complete protein after a workout to promote muscle protein synthesis  (MPS). MPS is necessary to repair the muscle fibres torn during exercise. You can take protein up to about an hour after exercise so long as your workout wasn't fasted. There's no need to rush it down within 20 minutes of finishing exercise as the so-called magic window has now been called into question.
  1. Restore your energy stores by taking carbohydrates. Plus, post-workout carbohydrate also has a positive impact on protein restoration in muscles. It both inhibits protein breakdown and stimulates protein synthesis. So by having a protein shake with carbs, you’re making the muscle re-building process even more effective!
  2. Stretch - Incorporate stretching into your recovery routine to reduce lactic acid build up which contributes to sore, achy muscles.
  3. Have a cold bath or shower - If you can cope with it, immerse yourself for 10 to 15 minutes at a temperature between 11 to 15 degrees Celsius. That should be enough time to reduce soreness and aid muscle recovery without having to subject yourself to an ice bath.
  4. Elevate and compress your legs if they're exhausted and to reduce swelling. But keep them mobilised to maintain circulation.

So plan your recovery routine and incorporate it into every training session. You may not have time for a cold bath and leg elevation after every session, especially if you’re exercising in your lunch break. However, always ensure hydration, stretching, protein and carbs feature in your recovery to recover faster, reduce those achy muscles and cut your chance of injury.