Recovery after a hard workout is something that is often overlooked. Most of us are really good at warming up for a hard session, but once the workout is over, we simply have a drink of water/ post workout shake and get on with the day. If this sounds like you, below are a couple of things you can do to help you recover from your workout.
#1 – Stay hydrated
Dehydration during a workout, particularly in the heat, is extremely common. A general rule of thumb is weighing yourself before your start your workout and then weigh yourself again after your workout. Then simply drink 1.5 times the amount of body-weight lost. For example, if you weight 81kg before your workout, then 80kg after your workout you would need to drink 1.5 liters of water post workout.
#2 – Stretch/foam roll/trigger point massage
Stretching, foam rolling, trigger point massage is a good way to cool down from your workout for a couple of reasons. Firstly, these are great ways to maintain/improve flexibility and work on releasing any sore spots that you may have. Secondly it helps to bring your body back into a parasympathetic state. This is a switch from your fight or flight system to your rest and digest system. This parasympathetic state helps to bring your heart rate down, improves respiratory rate and relaxes those tight muscles.
#3 – Eat more
Our bodies need to be fueled. It is important that you eat the right foods post workout to get the most for your efforts. Some people don’t really feel hungry after a workout, however if you want to optimize your recovery, you need to eat post workout.
In terms of want to eat, I always recommend seeing a dietitian who can personalise a plan for you. For those participating in intense training programs it can be a good idea to increase protein intake. The best source of protein is whole food, however if you don’t feel like eating anything post workout a respected whey protein powder you can easily make a quick smoothie that is easy to digest, tastes great and will be absorbed by your body quickly and effectively.
Protein is not all you need, during your workout, it is likely that your potassium and magnesium levels will be depleted. Your body will thank you for a hit of the good stuff… Bananas are always a favorite, packed full of potassium, a banana can re-energise those muscles.
#4 – Sleep!
Sleep is one of the best ways you can recover. Our bodies need rest, and during a good, uninterrupted sleep cycle the body spends time repairing the damage that may have been caused by a hard workout. Aim for 7-8 hours per night, and try turning off all your devices (phones, laptops, tv) at least 30 mins before bed. This will give your body time to relax, enter a parasympathetic state and improve your overall sleep quality.