Rest and recovery after sport: dos & don’ts
Sport and physical activity are good for both our body and mind. But whether you run, swim, cycle or do strength training, the body is put under strain. Rest and recovery helps improve performance and prevent injuries.
Why is rest and recovery after sport so important?
Exercise – especially intense exercise – often creates tiny tears in the muscles. These need time to heal. That’s why it’s important to plan regular phases of recovery in your training schedule.
Recovery not only gives the body enough time to repair these micro-injuries – done properly, it also prepares the body for the next sporting activity. “If you want to see results, you have to give your body sufficient time to recover so that it can heal and grow stronger,” explains Dr Karin van Baak from the Sports Medicine and Performance Center at Colorado University in an interview with UCHealth Today. Muscles only grow when the micro-tears heal, not during the training session itself.
The recovery time itself varies from person to person, depending on your age, the sport you do and your general level of fitness. Generally speaking, however, the more intensive the training, the more recovery time you’ll need. And if you still have sore muscles or feel flat after the recovery phase, experts recommend that you rest for a day longer.
What is supercompensation and what are the benefits?
Supercompensation is a key term in relation to recovery after sport. Put simple, it describes the following phenomenon: Due to physical fatigue, the performance level drops immediately after a workout. However, during the course of recovery, performance increases beyond the original level. This way, the body is better prepared for similar stresses in the future.
The 5 phases of supercompensation
Dos & don’ts
How do you recover properly and how long does recovery take?
Should we train for three days, then take a break? Unfortunately, muscle recovery isn’t that simple, because proper recovery after sport has to take the following factors into account:
Warm-up and cool-down
Optimum recovery time
Tips for rapid recovery
Can you shorten the recovery phase? Studies show that sleep plays an important role in recovery. The duration and quality of your sleep is important. If you want to recover quickly from training sessions, you need to sleep properly. “This means, work, the TV and your smartphone should be banned from the bedroom. Develop habits and routines that prepare your body and mind for sleep,” says Baak. You can also do the following to help your muscles recover:
Massage and fascia training
What role does nutrition play in recovery after sport?
Be sure to get your recommended daily protein intake. Protein – for example from lean meat, fish, eggs and pulses – is critical for muscle growth and tissue repair. Antioxidants – from fruit and vegetables – also have an anti-inflammatory effect. Carbohydrates are a key energy source for the body. After exercise, you should replenish your glycogen stores with the help of foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. And, of course, vitamins and minerals are also essential. These are responsible for the regeneration processes in the body. If you eat a balanced diet, you’re already doing a lot right.