For many of us across Melbourne, completing our weekly exercise sessions is a priority and a goal. We set our alarms early, set aside time in our calendars, mentally prepare ourselves – and then feel accomplished knowing we’ve ticked it off the list and supported our health and well-being. What many people don’t do, however, is pay the same careful attention to our recovery after and between training sessions. And it may be coming at a cost.
Recovery gives our body the chance to heal and repair itself after, which is necessary after we exert ourselves in training. A good recovery helps decrease the build-up of lactic acid in our tissues which reduces post-workout soreness, it assists in muscle-building and maintenance, it reduces the risk of future injuries (which is a big one in our books!) and a good recovery has even been shown to improve your performance at your next exercise session. From our perspective, this makes having a good recovery just as important as completing your training session in the first place.
Why Your Recovery Matters
Picture yourself sitting at your table in the morning, before any workout, enjoying your breakfast or coffee, and taking in the bright new day. Here, your body is in balance, your internal conditions are stable and regulated, and your body is in a state of homeostasis. Fast-forward to your workout, and again looking internally, things get hectic. Your body is in a state of intentional stress as it works hard, your temperature rises and your blood flow quickens, and your chemical balances change and become disrupted. Here, your ‘recovery’ is the time that your body spends on restoring homeostasis – that internal balance.
Aside from the internal changes, there are the consequences for your muscles, tissues and joints from exercise. As you work out, the stress on your body naturally creates microtears in your muscles, a key part of maintaining and building muscle strength. When you rest and recover, your body goes through stages of healing and repair that promote muscle growth and allow you to get back to full strength and capacity. And this takes time and care for your body to achieve. When you don’t allow your body adequate time to recover and heal, this is when muscles and ligaments become inflamed and fatigued, and when you become vulnerable to injury, soreness and discomfort. Interestingly, inadequate rest and recovery is one of the main reasons we see budding exercise enthusiasts fail to see the progress (in everything from their strength to their endurance) at the rate at which they had expected.
Simply put: your recovery matters. A lot. And so far we’ve only touched on regular recovery – and not the kind needed after sustaining an injury.
A Healthy Recovery: Where To Start?
To understand where to start for recovery, you need to know the two primary types of recovery:
- Active recovery means continuing to move while you recover from higher intensity exercise by using gentle, non-strenuous movements. Walking between sets, gently cycling after a weights class, and doing gentle walks on your off days are good examples.
- Passive recovery requires no movement at all. You simply let your body rest while you lie down between sets, immediately head back to work after a workout where you’ll spend the next four hours sitting, or not engaging in any exercise on your days off.
Of the two, active recovery has the most benefits due to the physical and chemical effects on your body:
- A study that looked at recovery in runners found that active recovery enabled them to run three times longer during their next run compared with those that used passive recovery.
- Another study on swimmers showed that active recovery dissipated 68% of the lactate that had accumulated in their blood, and would have otherwise settled in their tissues.
- In a power performance test, active recovery preserved peak power output and average power, while passive recovery led to greater decrements in power.
So What Are The Best Ways To Recover?
The best ways to recover for you will depend on the intensity of your workout, your training goals, and importantly if you have an existing injury (or suspect you may be developing one). For simple, non-strenuous workouts and no injuries or pains during your workout, you may choose to recover at home in a range of natural ways, in addition to continuing light activity levels (active recovery). If you’re actively engaged in improving your fitness, are exercising regularly and with strenuous exercise added to the mix, or are experiencing any pain or injuries, then in-clinic recovery methods may be best suited so you can meet your goals.
- Foam rolling: foam rolling your muscles can help to reduce stiffness, minimise post-workout muscle soreness, stimulate blood flow, improve your range of movement and reduce tissue tension – all of which can aid in recovery and performance.
- Wear compression clothing: compression clothing creates a tightening force on the encompassed parts of the body and its muscles. This increased pressure can help improve blood flow and subsequently oxygenation to the area. This increased blood flow can also help move toxins out of the tissues, helping them to heal and rebuild quicker, while also helping to reduce inflammation and fatigue. The only limitation is the level of compression available in general, non-medical clothing.
- Eating for recovery: during exercise, your muscles use their glycogen stores for energy which results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen after your workout. As your body tries to restore its glycogen stores, the food you eat can play an important role in getting it done faster. Quality carbohydrates (e.g. quinoa, fruit, oats, pasta and rice) and lean proteins (e.g. eggs, yoghurt, salmon, chicken and tuna) help to replenish your body’s muscle glycogen fuel stores, helping promoting muscle repair and preventing unnecessary breakdown of proteins. 20g – 40g of protein after a workout is recommended, alongside ensuring that you are rehydrating sufficiently.
Working with a wide range of active adults and athletes every week, we’re proud to have a world-class range of recovery and performance-enhancement tools available to our patients. These include:
- Compression therapy: we’re proud to offer the latest in innovative compression therapy with the NormaTec Hyperice garments. These recovery suits have completely changed the way that our athletes and patients recover, working to help relieve muscle pain and aches, temporarily increase circulation and hence flexibility and the range of motion available in the joints, helping with injury prevention, and accelerating recovery times. All this means your athletic performance and training progress is boosted, and you also don’t feel so fatigued and achy after your training.
- Photobiomodulation with K-laser: photobiomodulation uses laser light therapy to reduce pain and optimise recovery from muscle pains across the body, optimise recovery from bone fractures, alleviate chronic pain, and much more. Aside from being painless and non-invasive, our patients love that it optimises the function of the body’s own cells to produce long-lasting beneficial effects, instead of relying on medicines that only temporarily help or ‘mask’ symptoms
- Amino Neuro Frequency (ANF): ANF has been a life-changing solution for many of our patients. It uses small, painless discs to get down to the root cause of any imbalances or problems in your body that may be inhibiting the recovery and repair process. Getting into the specifics, we carefully position the ANF discs on your body, which emit a precise frequency of energy to the area beneath the skin where it is applied. Every organ in your body has a specific frequency at which it operates optimally, so your practitioner selects the right disc to match the desired frequency of the area and tissues being treated. Once the disc is activated by your body’s infrared heat, the frequencies emitted are picked up by your body’s nervous system, helping to strengthen your weak or unregulated frequencies to bring them back to a healthy functioning state. When the body can work well, it can heal and regulate itself well, including reducing inflammation, improving pain and boosting your repair and recovery of any injuries.
- Neurokinetic therapy: neurokinetic therapy understands that many problems with recovery and injuries are much more than physical – they are also linked to dysfunctional movement patterns stored in the brain that your body considers “normal” – but aren’t. This therapy looks to the brain and its motor control centre that coordinates posture and movement, identifying dysfunctional movement patterns, and then working to “unlearn” them and re-learn optimal movement patterns that allow healthy, fluid and injury-free movement. This not only supports your recovery but is crucial for future injury prevention and overall performance improvement.
Ready To Get To The Top Of Your Game?
Then our practitioners in Melbourne’s Point Cook are here to help. Aside from these recovery aids that we’ve mentioned, we also have a wide range of solutions available to support your performance and recovery including the prescription of custom foot orthotics (insoles), foot mobilisation and more.
Book your appointment online here or call us on 1300 FX FEET.