How to recover properly after exertion

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When you do sports, your muscles work by contraction, making demands on the energy systems in order to support the intensity and duration of exertion, but it results in a reduction of your energy reserves and a possible accumulation of wastes.

Then post-workout aches, called DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness), may appear. These aches can be related to an inflammatory reaction and to micro-lesions that cause hyperpressure in the muscles, resulting in this soreness within 6 to 48 hours after workout

During the recovery period, the body should therefore have a higher metabolic activity than at rest –

  • To cover for the energy loss and eliminate the waste by mobilising all the systems that were used during exertion, to restore the stocks of energy and of muscular proteins
  • To meet the needs of putting the cardiorespiratory and circulatory systems back at rest by stimulating the blood flow, and therefore the heart rate, that should therefore be superior to the resting heart rate (50-80 beats per minute). You can easily check this rate with an HRM device of a dedicated app

Useful to know: Move regularly, progressively but in a sustainable manner

The more you are trained to exertion, the more the body adaptive system will be soft and progressive, the less the body will suffer and the shorter and more effective the recovery will be

Programming the recovery

The recovery starts immediately after the end of the workout, but can be prepared beforehand by doing passive stretches and providing effective hydration

At the end of the workout, repeat the stretches, that will then be active, and hydrate again

Then, have some relative rest in order to let your body go back to a calm state and your joints, muscles and tendons to regenerate and return to a proper functioning condition. (This necessarily involves the use of a recovery-adapted diet with significant water intake.)

Tips and recovery indicators:

  • Controlling the fitness weight is a good indicator of proper recovery - indeed, any workout-related dehydration results in weight loss
  • The body temperature can be another indicator of proper recovery and should be checked by the athlete everyday upon waking, at rest.
  • The heart rate certainly remains the preferred indicator to know your body recovery level. Any athlete should know their basal heart rate and resting heart rate and check it on a regularly basis at rest. Any variation by more than 10% should be considered a warning sign

The pillars of proper recovery

Hydration

In standard workout conditions, in our climates and at sea level altitude, an adult needs 2 to 2.5 litres of water per day, half being provided by drinking water. Knowing that the loss due to sweat may reach, depending on the situation, one to two litres of water per hour of exertion, it is considered that an athlete should drink at least one litre of additional water per day, just to make up for their sports practice.

The recovery diet

What's in your plate will affect your sports performances!!!! so have the right diet habits

Cold

Using cold is an excellent way to facilitate recovery.

Cold may be used locally on a joint or as a post-workout cold shower. You will find an article about cold use on our website

Stretching

Even if you did a non-competitive workout, active stretching is very effective after exertion and help recover and return to muscular normality. Take 5 to 10 minutes to relax your muscles

Massages

Do superficial or deep self-massages with heat or in balneotherapy, using a recovery balm, or if you can, have a professional massage you as the various massaging techniques provide recovery-promoting wellness

Relaxing methods

Sophrology and other techniques can help promote better post-workout sleep and therefore improve psychological recovery; You can also listen to soft music to relax your muscles, using relaxation techniques 

Contention and immobilisation

It is also possible to use draining techniques, with sports compression socks or stockings, to facilitate blood flow and venous return, thus avoiding heaviness in the legs or post-workout cramps, as well as the development of varicose veins.

Medications or other substances

It is not recommended to use substances or medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers, unless your doctor tells you to. If needed, prefer homeopathic treatments

Conclusion

Doing sports always results in some level of body fatigue that will be proportional to the characteristics of exertion in terms of duration or intensity, but the better your shape, the less your body will suffer and therefore the shorter the recovery period will be

Knowing the natural ways to improve recovery can help working out without using the body reserves and without risking to cause chronic fatigue, a common source of injury

 

Docteur Patrick Bacquaert

Médecin chef de l'IRBMS

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Advice

Sport is good for your health, and the objective is to avoid injuries and microtraumas and to recover as quickly as possible to enjoy the benefits of sport and maintain one's fitness and wellness
Post-workout muscle soreness can be avoided or lessened so that it becomes tolerable and is not an obstacle either to everyday life or to going back to the stadium as soon as possible

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Advice

Doing sports or any physical activity requires cardiocirculatory adaptations to meet the energy supply needs essential to proper muscle function. In order to provide the oxygen needed for the muscle cells to function, the heart increases its cardiac output by raising the volume of blood circulating through the veins and arteries. The arteries filled with oxygenated blood bring oxygen-rich arterial blood to the muscles to feed them and the veins in blue bring waste-filled blood back to the heart, then to the lungs.

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