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Whether you are a sports enthusiast or a professional athlete, everyone needs to make sure they recover properly after a big event. Sports recovery is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.
Recently our directors took part in the Duchenne Dash max, The Duchenne Dash max consists of the main Duchenne Dash which is a 24-hour bike ride from London to Paris in aid of Duchenne UK. Then the MAX team continue to Monaco totalling a whopping distance of 1,500km. It was devised by Alasdair Robertson, whose son, Felix, suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), to push beyond the limit of the Duchenne Dash in the hopes of raising more money for the charity. DMD affects 1 in 3500 boys and is a fatal muscle wasting disease. It is the biggest genetic killer of children on the planet. Read about the Duchenne Dash Max 2017 Route.
This got us thinking of sports recovery and what is the best way to recover from such a sporting triumph. With the help and expertise from James Fox, Founder of www.komfuel.co.uk, an online subscription service for athletes to buy and create their own personalized and flexible nutrition and hydration plans, we’ve put together some simple tips.
To push your fitness goals, short term or long term it isn’t all about working hard every day, you have to allow time for your body to recover. During the workout, you are effectively ‘ripping’ the muscles. Allowing your body to rest allows the muscles to repair themselves in their new larger state. Not letting your body recover means you increase the chances of injury and illness. Recovery is simple, you earned it!
Keeping hydrated is the most important topic of discussion. It is so important you stay hydrated before, during and after exercise. Hydration means replacing the loss of water through sweat. Water controls your body temperature, speeds up joint and cartilage repair and reduces fatigue. Getting to that stage of dehydration can have huge impacts on your recovery time.
1. Drink 500ml to 600ml of water 2 to 3 hours before you start exercising.
2. Drink 300ml of water 20 to 30 minutes before you start exercising or during your warm-up.
3. Drink 200ml to 300ml of water every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
4. Drink 300ml of water no more than 30 minutes after you exercise.
*Another top tip is to add salt to your meals before and after. Sweat contains sodium and potassium. Adding salt will help to replace these agents lost through perspiration.
Just using water could impact on your performance, in particular when taking part in longer activities over 60 minutes. As highlighted above the replacement of the losses of electrolytes (sodium) in your sweat is really important. As a brief overview, losing sodium during exercise will impact on the fluid levels in the body which in turn can lead to other potential problems such as cramping. This varies from athlete to athlete and can be dependent on many other factors such as we mentioned: time, weather, intensity and so on. KOM FUEL would recommend Precision Hydration as a top electrolyte drink to support athletes and reaching optimum performance. For further personalisation you can access the online sweat test or advance sweat test in order to identify your loss of sodium in your sweat.
To recover from strenuous exercise your body needs to replenish all of the fuels you’ve used up. Make sure that you are eating sufficient calories to recover from exertion and that you have your macronutrients balanced within your diet. Not enough protein in your diet can result in the loss of muscle mass. If you don’t have enough carbohydrates in your diet, it could lead to poor performance and fatigue in your recovery and exercise.
We have already discussed water and electrolytes, calories are another fuel that your body depletes during exercise. Calorie intake will vary for each athlete with different factors to take account of. Such as the time you are spending on the activity you are going to take part in.
For shorter activities under 90 minutes, it can be the case that the body will have enough fuel for the activity you are taking part in. However, likewise with water and electrolytes ensuring your body is at optimum is important from the outset. If you begin depleted this will impact on performance from the beginning of your activity.
2-4 hours and 4 hours plus; on average research highlights 60 grams of carbohydrates to be replaced per 60 minutes of exercise. Sports drinks will contain a set amount of carbohydrates and then alongside this, it is important to top up the deficit. You can do this in many ways. Whether this is taken in through a natural approach by eating a couple of bananas (approx. 25 grams of carbohydrates per banana) or through consuming sports nutrition products like gels or bars. This will be the best way at replenishing your depleted carbohydrates. I personally find from my own experiences using sports nutrition products are the best way for me as they are easier to consume and carry/pack during races. We particularly like 32Gi range of chews as they provide a great level of carbohydrates. The range are also easy to carry/pack and meet varying athlete dietary requirements such as Vegan and Halal friendly. Favourites for our nutrition bars include Oompf Energy which are natural. Alongside Oompf we have our flavoursome CLIF Bars and Picky Bars. If you are more towards using gels then our preferences are the GU and Torq range. Which are again great to carry and the flavours are awesome.
Protein is an important part of recovery and I have discussed this further in Stretch & Massage.
The reason stretching is important after you work out is to recover. Lactic acid builds up in your muscles from of the lack of oxygen. From the lactic acid build up this most commonly results in muscle soreness and fatigue. Stretching after a workout reduces muscle fatigue and encourages muscle repair. When you work out your muscle contracts repeatedly causing your muscles to be left in the shortened state.
When stretching it helps your muscles to stretch to their natural length. Maintenance stretching has a purpose of returning the muscles to its normal length, you should hold these stretches for approximately 10- 15 seconds each stretch. When stretching regularly it helps with your posture and recovery.
Making sure you complete stretches before and after exercising you should make it a habit from the many benefits for your body, stretching reduces the risk of injury, tension, and pain. It also improves your body awareness and coordination.
Don’t stretch cold muscles. You may hurt yourself if you stretch when your muscles are cold. Before stretching warm up gently with a walk or jog.
Stretch both sides. Flexibility that is not equal on both sides can increase the chances of injuring yourself. Making sure you equally stretch both sides for the same amount of time.
Focus on important muscle groups. Aim your stretches on major muscle groups that are extensively used. This includes important muscles such as your calves, thighs, hips, neck, and shoulders. These are the most commonly used and shouldn’t be ignored.
Don’t bounce. Stretch in a smooth movement, without bouncing. Bouncing as you stretch can injure your muscle and in fact, you could tear your muscles. Bouncing causes microtrauma (small injury) in the muscle. This type of repetitive, bouncing stretch is called Ballistic Stretching and it can strain your muscles. (Fitness P., 2007)
Keep up with your stretching. Stretching can be time-consuming especially before and after exercise but it is important. Stretching regularly, you should stretch at least two to three times a week but definitely before and after you work out. (Clinic, 2017)
In terms of following on from stretching and post exercise, you will hear of the ‘anabolic window’. This is the time frame at which is best to help the body repair and recover. Research suggests time frames at which this should occur vary with anything within 10 minutes and up to an hour. You don’t have to hold yourself to these times. However, it is just that the sooner the consumption of protein during this period occurs the better the outcome for your repair and recovery.
Consuming protein is the key to help muscle repair and development; eating more is not necessarily better. Advice recommends around 20 grams of protein to aid protein synthesis (repair of muscle) to effectively occur. Protein can come from varied sources; this can be natural through eating fish or chicken or KOM FUEL stocks many of the sports nutrition brands, with a choice of protein bars, gels and powders. If you prefer gels the Science in Sport WHEY20 or STEALTH Berry Protein sachets are great post activity, these are quick and easy to carry and consume. We have some really tasty protein bars that KOM FUEL would suggest including OTEs, Chocolate Mint or USNs, Protein Delite, Toffee Almond both delivering the Protein in a naughty treat. If you prefer a shake then we recommend one of our protein powders from Nutristrength, if you wish to look a more specific whey’s these come in a pea protein or even goat and sheep whey.
In the main discussion, helping the repair and recovery of your muscles is key to ensure that you are recovered and then performing well for your next activity.
After a day of exercise, it is important to get a good night sleep to recover. Being sleep deprived can affect your workout and recovery (So cats aren’t being lazy, they are smarter than you think)
Sleep deprivation impairs and prevents your control over reflexive behaviour. This impairment is commonly assumed to dissipate after recovery sleep. (Sprenger, 2015) Sleeping is when the body undergoes protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process where biological cells generate new proteins. – (Wikipedia, 2017)
Stick to a sleep routine. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
Sleep comfortably. Investing in some new pillows and mattress can make all the difference, saving tossing and turning all through the night. having a comfortable environment by having fresh air and cooler air temperature in your room to improve the quality of sleep. It is ideal to sleep at a cooler temperature.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine in the evening. Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake. So, avoiding caffeine (which is found in coffee, tea, sweets, fizzy drinks, and even some pain relievers) for up to four to six hours before bedtime. Similarly, smokers should refrain from using tobacco products too close to bedtime or the expert advice would be to give up altogether.
When we have completed exercise and placed our bodies under stress bands and knots can form within our muscles. Some moderate Foam Rolling prior to bed can provide great pressure point release and decompress muscles. Another important area is to ensure you are taking on board fluids. This is to ensure hydration levels are maintained which will support recovery and readiness for your next activity, this is particularly important if you are doing many sessions during your day/week.
To help speed up recovery after intense exercise, active recovery is used most commonly post-exercise. Gentle movements improve circulation within the body which helps promote nutrient and waste transportation throughout the body removing any unwanted dross. This helps the muscles repair and refuel faster after an intense period of exercise compared to not allowing your body to recover.
Active recovery includes cooldowns, a low-intensity exercise (which would include a gentle walk) and stretches. Water-based activity such as swimming is a beneficial active recovery as the buoyancy of water is easy on the joints after working out, but it also helps to relieve joint pain from relieving your body from the weight you are carrying. (Commonmedicalquestions, 2015)
Using the key ingredients during active recovery includes thinking about your hydration, calorie intake, and recovery are all important processes which we have discussed and still need to think about and follow. Lower intensity during these sessions are key to help aid recovery. Focusing on technique is a great way to support getting the best from these sessions.
Thank you for reading our blog, follow us on social media to find out more about future challenges such as the Velo Birmingham!
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Our diverse team are all drawn from performance backgrounds. None are professional trainers, all are practitioners in their chosen field.
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