For any sports man or woman, the feeling of utter, crippling agony that follows a big fitness session is an all too familiar feeling. What some people don’t realise, however, is that it is in those moments that your body is making the real improvements. You don’t get fitter when you’re exercising, but rather when you are recovering afterwards. So we are saying embrace the feeling. But that is not to say that there are ways that you can limit the pain.
When preparing for any sporting event the temptation will always be to go hard, but building rest days into your training regime is an extremely important part of good preparation. It will help to avoid injury, allow your body to recover so you can go harder in your next session, and let your body strengthen. The aches and pains you experience in your muscles are caused by a series of small tears in the muscle as it grows. Knowing that the discomfort is quite literally caused by you becoming stronger is in itself a comforting thought.
Having said that, there are simple ways to limit the discomfort on rest days. The most obvious is of course ibuprofen, which is an anti-inflammatory that is well suited to help with muscle pain. Don’t be tempted to take ibuprofen before a workout though, as it’s important that you can feel when you’re straining too hard. It’s when you can’t read your body that injuries can happen (always be careful when taking painkillers). Diet can also make a difference. Post workout, chocolate milk has been proven to be the perfect combination of protein and carbohydrates and oddly is more effective at rehydrating than water.
Bananas are packed full of potassium which drains out of us during exercise via the sweat ducts. And if you are into supplements, try turmeric which has been shown to reduce muscle damage and inflammation when taken two days before and one after a big workout. A tip I picked up off ultra runner Abbi Naylor was also to take magnesium tablets to reduce the chances of cramping, support muscle and nerve functions, and energy production.
Fitness workouts, regardless of the type, should always start with a warm-up and warm-down, with stretching incorporated to improve muscle flexibility, performance and recovery.
How do you build rest days into your fitness regime? Or disagree? Let us know.