This time of year, many of us are squeezing in the last morsels of Rest and Recovery as the summer fades and the routines of fall and winter approach. This rest helps us heal in preparation for the demands and stress of our daily lives. Our physical bodies also require rest and recovery to improve in performance and health.
Most of us know that we need to stress our body to improve its strength, endurance, and overall performance. This process is an example of our body’s amazing ability to adapt. We push it beyond its limit, and it responds by getting stronger. But did you know that these improvements actually occur while we are resting and recovering. This rest is required to heal the trauma our system endures to meet the demands we ask of it. On a physiological level, resistance exercise and high intensity cardiovascular exercise damages the sarcolemma (contractile connective tissue and proteins) and impairs the body’s ability to maintain and replenish glycogen stores (food for the muscles). Therefore, rest and recovery are the time for the body to replenish these glycogen energy stores (the food), repair the damaged skeletal muscle, as well as use the growth hormone that our bodies release during exercise. This process allows the cells to repair, which heals the muscle, allowing the body to return to full strength, ideally even better than before.
Over time, we have identified many of the most important components that allow our bodies to recover quickly, safely, and effectively to endure that next bout of exercise.
Active Recovery: Engagement in light activity (light cardiovascular exercise or a low impact workout) that can improve circulation and address the occasional delayed onset muscle soreness that can accompany stressing the body.
Hydration: Our bodies quickly lose a lot of water as sweat during exercise. It is important to fully replace that to aid in healing tissues.
Nutrition: Be sure to eat a healthy snack or meal within the first 45 minutes following heavy exercise to allow your body to help begin replenishing those glycogen stores and begin the recovery process. Remember our muscles use food like our cars use gasoline (or electricity).
Relax: Focus on deep, restful sleep. Use the time to relax and enjoy the feeling!
Whether we are using exercise to rehabilitate an injury, or training our bodies to endure an event, race, or competition; it is essential we allow the full cycle of stress and recovery to happen! Contact us at DeePT if you have any questions or need help to feel good again.
Written by: Matt Odachowski, PT, OCS