As the season of sports heats up this year, recovery is critical to maintaining performance while avoiding injuries during practice and games. While sports can help build muscle, they can also cause muscle breakdown if not given enough time and rest to repair. This breakdown causes fatigue, making an athlete vulnerable to musculoskeletal injuries. There are numerous ways to recover, but the most important thing is to not immediately get in the car and drive home after an activity. Instead, use these four tips to help you recover faster to play at your best and avoid injury.
Cooling down after your workout allows your heart rate and blood pressure to return to pre-exercise levels gradually. Cool down with a light jog for about 5 minutes after games, practices, or heavy training. Foam roll tight and sore areas like your hips, quads, hamstrings, and calves before stretching them. Though dynamic or moving stretching is preferred before activity, static stretching is effective afterwards.
Increased activity burns more calories, which must be replenished so muscles can recover, so you may need to eat more. Hydration is also essential for recovery. It has been shown that even a 2% loss in body weight due to sweat loss can reduce performance. Wait until you are hungry after exercise if you are not. Then consume plenty of lean protein. If you eat meat, try sliced turkey breast, eggs, or low-fat cheese. Protein shakes are also beneficial. Whole grain carbs with nut butter are another option. Avoid fried and processed foods.
Exercise can suppress your appetite and make you want to avoid eating. If this is the case, a recovery beverage such as flavoured milk, drinkable yoghurt, or a fruit smoothie may be beneficial. Cold sports drinks, fruit juice, and low-fat milkshakes are also options.
Sleeping well allows the heart to rest and promotes cell and muscle repair. Athletes require 8-10 hours of sleep per night, with consistent sleep patterns. A nap after exercise can help with muscle recovery. Your pituitary gland secretes growth hormones while you sleep. Your muscles require this hormone to repair and build tissue. This is necessary for muscle growth, athletic performance, and reaping the benefits of exercise.
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Recovery techniques must not be long, complicated, or expensive to be effective, but they must be practised regularly. Back-to-back games and practices can tax your body, resulting in poor performance and injury. Take the time and make an effort to recover quickly and perform well.