When performing exercise, whether it is running or weight training, you are stressing your body in different ways. This can cause physical changes, such as the breakdown of muscle tissue, depletion of energy stores and loss of fluid. This is felt as DOMS and is often associated with reduced muscle strength and range of motion, and swelling within the muscles.
Despite being temporary, your body needs rest in order to fully recover from these changes. During this time, the body replenishes energy stores, repairs damaged tissues and ultimately, becomes stronger, allowing you to train harder at the next session.
A few signs that you may be over-training and not getting enough rest include feelings of general tiredness, reduced sports performance, increase risk of injury and mood changes. Therefore, rest and recovery shouldn’t be ignored and comes hand in hand with an effective training plan.
Here are a few tips on how to optimise your recovery:
1. Active recovery – This could be a gentle cycle or a walk on a rest day. Keeping your body moving, heart rate slow and aiding lymphatic drainage, which is so helpful if you’re feeling sore following an intense training session.
2. Sleep – The more hours you spend sleeping, the more time you are giving your body to adequately recover and repair itself. Lack of sleep can affect not only performance, but also your immune functions, mood and motivation. We all need different amounts of sleep, depending on how active we are during the day, but aim for about 7 hours.
3. Food and water – Make sure you are getting enough and feeding your body with nutritious food, giving it all the resources it needs to repair itself effectively. Also make sure you are properly fueled and hydrated before and after each training session.
4. Stretching and foam rolling – Spending time using a foam roller or stretching to release tight muscles is very beneficial. It can increase circulation to the tissues and relax of tight muscles and fascia.