When you wake up the day after a great workout and your body feels like a lead weight, it’s easy to wonder why you bothered in the first place. We all seem to take a bit of pride in our aching limbs after we hit the gym or bust some calories at the local boxercise class, but although a few twinges might be a sign that you’ve stretched yourself, too much pain can prevent you from returning any time soon! So says Personal Trainer and lifestyle coach Ricky Matharu, who is keen to encourage people to prepare properly and exercise right in order to achieve maximum results when they work out. Ricky runs an online health and fitness mentoring scheme through Precision Nutrition and has been coaching me back to fitness after having my two kids for the past six months. He says: “Exercise is essentially a stress on the body, but this isn’t a a bad thing. With adequate recovery it is given the opportunity to rebuild. But without this you’ll over stress the body, results will be compromised and you may get injured. Your nervous system has a break and an accelerator so you’re either in fight or flight mode or rest and digest. In today’s hectic fast paced lifestyle, we need to chase our recovery.”
So here’s what Ricky has taught me when it comes to recovering properly after a workout…
The correct fluid intake will prevent injury and ensure your workout is optimal. Dehydration can lead to cramping and dizziness pre and post workout as well as slowing down the removal of lactic acid. To replenish electrolytes and sodium lost during exercise drink around 1.5-2 liters throughout the day and post workout to avoid dehydration following exercise. A new brand I have discovered is AQUA Carpatica which is naturally Nitrate-free and has the lowest sodium level of any bottled natural mineral water on earth! Nitrates are fertilisers and can be traced in almost every bottled water on the market. Found in nature and used in agriculture, they are colourless, odourless and tasteless but are pollutants, and in large quantities can be damaging. In many European countries, legislation ensures that Nitrate (NO3) content in bottled water does not exceed 50mg per litre for adults, while for new born babies and pregnant women any more than 10mg per litre can be dangerous. AQUA Carpatica comes in three varieties and is ultra refreshing after a hard workout. It’s also great to keep in the house for the rest of the family too.
Natural protein sources vs processed protein supplements
Processed protein products, in particular isolated protein supplements, lack a list of vital nutrients which occur in foods that naturally contain protein. Natural protein sources such as peanuts for example, contain Vitamin B3, B6 and B7, whilst salmon contains omega-3, and yogurt contains calcium. Yes, protein supplements are more convenient, but taking your time to choose natural protein sources will boost recovery due to the overall nutritional profile of the meal that will increase overall energy from the additional health properties.
Curcumin is a chemical found in Turmeric that helps alleviate joint pain and increase recovery time due to having a large amount of anti-inflammatory properties. It has been scientifically proven that turmeric is as powerful as most anti-inflammatory prescription medications. Take turmeric before a workout to help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.
Get a good night’s sleep
A single night of sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in cortisol the stress hormone which can delay recovery after a workout. But the good news is that exercise promotes good sleep. To further improve sleep quality it’s a good idea to turn off technology two hours before bed as smart phones and tablets produce something called the blue light which can suppress melatonin (the sleep hormone). Also, try meditating before bedtime, to induce an inner calm and help you drift off peacefully rather than tossing and turning until sleep finally takes hold.
Balance your body
Including foods in your diet such as dark leafy greens, peanuts, yoghurt and bananas will help reduce lactic acid build up which a bi-product from strenuous exercise and intense workouts. The benefit of reducing lactic acid build up means your body recovers a lot quicker, meaning your body won’t be feeling a world of pain after a workout!
In order to reduce recovery time following a workout, make sure you’re doing more than just passive stretching. As babies we are born with full range of motion and as we get older due to inactivity and lifestyle, this range of movement decreases. Focus on each joint of your body working the full range of motion spending concentrated time on each. Having an increased range of movement will improve movement efficiency and help prevent injury at the same time boosting workout recovery times.
Take the plunge and run a cold bath or take an icy shower. The cold therapy will help repair muscle tissue tears from intensive or repetitive workouts. The cold water constricts blood vessels helping promote the removal of waste products (such as lactic acid) in the body and help reduce muscle soreness as a result.
- To find out more about online coaching with Ricky, or to book a consultation with him, go to www.rm-pt.co.uk