Why is Recovery Important?
If you’re already fairly well-versed in working out and have an optimal routine put together, then you may already know some of this information. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning why recovery is one of the most important aspects of your training regime.
First, and most obvious, proper recovery will make you feel better. This is usually in the form of decreased soreness and fatigue, but the benefits extend beyond that. An effective recovery means you will be more prepared for your next workout, allowing you to get the most out of that subsequent workout. If you are not fully recovered, you may not be able to attain as many reps or a certain weight, so it really does affect your overall performance and goals.
Tips and Tricks for Effective Recovery
After a hard day in the gym, it can be easy to simply go home, lay up on the couch, and just eat. While eating is an important part of recovery, we will focus on the more physical aspects here. Instead of getting home and sitting around, or taking a long hot shower, try drawing a cold bath. This is most effective when you have just finished a leg workout. Sitting in a cold bath (ideally an ice bath, but that’s not always practical) will decrease the swelling and lead to way less post-exercise pain and stiffness, and ultimately help reduce the risk of injury.
After this immediate recovery period, you can then focus on warming and stretching (let’s say around 24-48 hours post-workout). For example, this could be a good opportunity to sit in a hot tub, take a warm shower, or do a gentle warm-up to get the blood flowing. In any case, you can follow either of these with a good stretching session. The warmth will help relax the muscles and promote circulation, which will make for easier and more effective stretching, and will also aid in reducing soreness. The main reason most people don’t do the warming immediately after their workout is because that can sometimes enhance the swelling and inflammation that is already occurring immediately after the workout. SO you can diminish these negative effects, wait a bit, then use the warmth to aid in your stretching.
Compression apparel has become fairly trendy lately, and while the direct effects on performance are still being debated, it seems clear that compression socks are really good items to have for recovery. Nightlynurse.com has a great selection of various types of compression socks, including compression stockings you can wear to work if you are going straight from the gym to your workplace.
Compression socks aid in recovery by promoting circulation without adding too much heat to enhance any existing inflammation. The socks basically help push blood back up the legs towards the heart, which can help eliminate lactic acid more effectively. Again, while there is some anecdotal evidence that they might improve performance, this hasn’t been confirmed and may vary from person to person, but the benefits for recovery have been well documented.
If you think carefully about your post-workout recovery, then you are already on a great track for success. Making sure you give yourself enough time can be tough sometimes, so the methods listed above will hopefully spark some ideas to help make your recovery period as efficient as possible. Good luck, and keep it up!