Optimum Recovery

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Angshuman Dutta

Recovery or Rest is one of the three pillars of athletic success, the other two being training and nutrition. While there is a lot of talk and emphasis on training and nutrition, recovery is often the ignored aspect. But the fact remains that unless the body recovers adequately your training goals will never be met.

Sometimes in our over enthusiasm or zeal to achieve results we try to put our body through some relentless workouts of high intensity. Exercise at the end of the day is stress on the body; while the appropriate amount of exercise induced stress is wonderful for the body, too much of it will have negative effects. Fitness buffs must have come across popular “motivational” quotes like-“Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever”. Well, working out with intensity, dedication and hard work are all critical and important-but working out in an injured state or not giving your body adequate time to recover is sheer stupidity; because, sooner rather than later, your body will give up. So train hard, eat well and rest adequately. Here are some pointers that will help you recover better and faster from your training and workouts.

  • Sleep– Deep restful sleep of at least 7 hours, and ideally 8 hours is extremely important for recovery; daresay this is the most important aspect of optimum recovery. There is no substitute for this! It is when you sleep that the body regenerates and recuperates. And no, you cannot count the hours watching television or browsing through Facebook as rest! If you are training two to three times a day, a nap in the daytime in between sessions will also help.
  • Meditation– Meditation is one of the most potent ways to reduce cortisol levels (the catabolic or stress hormone) and enhance post training recovery rates. In a study conducted by Sudsuang, Chentanez and Veluvan which was published in the “Physiology and Human Behaviour”, it was seen that subjects who practiced Dhammakaya meditation had significantly lower levels of serum cortisol, systolic and diastolic pressure and resting heart rate and at the same time they had increased serum protein levels and exhibited elevated lung capacity.
  • Cryotherapy– Cryotherapy is the application of cold to aid the body’s recovery process; it can be ice, ice cold water or the modern cryo chambers or cryo saunas. Having an ice bath post an intense training session is a common way to do this. Most professional sports teams use this method to recover after long training sessions and games. Another method, you might consider is using contrasting hot and cold showers. It basically involves showering, starting with hot water (not hot enough to burn you) and after a couple of minutes switching on to cold water for one minute. The whole process would be repeated for about five to ten minutes. The technique takes some time getting used to, but users have reported significant improvement in recovery and it remains a popular recovery technique.
  • Foam Rolling: Foam rolling is now a commonly used and integral part of the recovery process. It is basically a way to initiate myofascial release. As you train and workout, the muscles contract and stretch out of its inherent elastic properties. Sometimes some knots or tightness develop in the muscles which need to be untangled for the muscles to return back to their original shape, form and function. Foam rolling is an easy and effective method to achieve that.
  • Massage: The effectiveness of massage to aid post training recovery is a debatable topic; nonetheless it remains one of the most popular recovery tools used by coaches and teams worldwide. Notwithstanding what physical benefits it offers there are scientific studies which confirm that massage has a positive psychological effect on the perceived rate of recovery and hence can offer positive benefits to athletes. So if you have the option of a good masseur, why not use one? But of course we are talking of sports massage here and not the popular Thai massage!

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