Congratulations! You’ve just finished a high-intensity event; whether it be running, cycling or hiking, the main priority on an athlete’s mind is how to recover right – before starting the celebrations…
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) typically follows most endurance events. The build-up of lactic acid and the severity of DOMS hugely depends on the fitness level of the individual. To improve recovery and performance, endurance athletes should place just as much importance on their recovery as to the amount they do training prior to an event.
With a combination of techniques, we can help you ease that stiff, lethargic feeling the day after an event.
Often overlooked by most, optimal nutrition is essential for recovery and will help replenish your glycogen stores while also helping achieve your training goals. Aim for a meal or a snack that contains a ratio of 3:1, carbohydrates to protein, no longer than 1hr post-exercise which is ideal to provide optimal recovery nutrition in athletes.
Commercial products, such as protein bars, often follow this protocol. For example, a typical ‘Eat Natural’ bar contains 30g carbohydrates and 10g protein – this would be an ideal quick and handy snack to have in the kitbag. Proteins are important post-exercise as they promote muscle repair in individuals, therefore reducing the extent of muscle soreness after a hard competition/challenge/training.
Prior to gulping that well-deserved pint post-event, you should prioritise drinking to replace fluids and avoid dehydration. After you’ve consumed at least 1litre of water, you can then afford to consume those couple of beers and avoid unwanted dehydration.
Chocolate milk is a popular refuelling and hydration product consumed by many athletes post-exercise. Chocolate milk provides both rehydration and nutritional recovery that I would recommend – it naturally contains carbohydrates, protein and electrolytes, therefore making it an ideal recovery product! Additionally, further rehydration is essential post-exercise to flush out any lactic acid built up in the muscles.
Any excuse for an extra couple of hours in bed!
Prioritising your sleep will hugely affect your recovery post-exercise! Researchers in Scandinavia have confirmed that insufficient sleep can hinder cognitive and physical aspects of performance and recovery in athletes. All thanks to the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) released in the deeper stages of sleep, sleeping is when your body synthesizes protein, creates new cells and repairs those tissues that were damaged through exercise! Aim for at least 8hrs sleep to fully recharge those tired muscles after an event.
You might not want to, but keeping your body active is essential when recovering post-event. Simple movements such as walking, light jogging or stretching will prevent muscles stiffness in the following days of an event. A relaxing swim followed by a lay down in the sauna for 30mins has been proven to provide benefits when recovering and improving performance in endurance athletes. Athletes tested found an increase of performance by 32% when running to exhaustion – maybe something different to switch up your everyday recovery routine!
In summary, a blend of carbohydrate, protein and fluid consumed within 30minutes post-exercise, alongside adequate sleep and active movements the following days of an event – all together would provide the optimal recovery and motivation needed for the next event.
Now go and enjoy the celebrations!
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