Top tips for sports recovery
Many top athletes swear by Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) as a way of speeding up recovery after a hard training session or injury. Dedicated followers include the Irish rugby team, which has been utlising Cryotherapy sessions for more than ten years, and champion jockey Tony McCoy, who used the treatment to help him recover from a back injury. If that’s not enough, the Olympic rehabilitation centre in Spala, Poland has a Cryotherapy chamber used by first class sports teams from across the world.
The extreme temperatures of WBC trigger the release of endorphins which give immediate pain relief and lead to faster muscle recovery and repair.
Here are a few other techniques that will help give your body a fighting chance against the rigours of exercise and fitness.
Cool down – slow down to a very low intensity for five or ten minutes after a workout. This helps remove lactic acid from your muscles and could reduce muscle stiffness.
Stretch – this is an easy and gentle way of helping your muscles recover after a tough workout. Take it slow and keep your movements smooth while holding position long enough to really feel the stretch.
Keep hydrated – ideally, you should drink plenty of fluids while you are exercising but taking on board lots of water following a hard training session will also boost your recovery. If you’re into endurance sports, drinking lots of water is essential.
Keep moving – walking on the spot, hunching your shoulders up and down, circling your arms – these are all actions that can improve circulation which, in turn, helps the body shift nutrients around. This should help with muscle repair.
Have a massage – a good sports massage will improve your circulation but it will also relax you and make you feel good.
Take an ice bath – this is a DIY version of Cryotherapy where athletes submerge themselves in cold water to relieve sore muscles, aid recovery and prevent injury.
Get a good night’s sleep – proper sleep is essential for anyone who regularly exercises. During sleep, your body produces a hormone which promotes tissue growth and repair.
Eat properly – your body needs fuel after a heavy workout. Try to eat within an hour of finishing your session and make sure you include high-quality protein like chicken and a complex carbohydrate like pasta.
Rest – Time is a great healer. Your body has a remarkable capacity to look after itself as long as you give it some time. It’s hard to miss a day’s training to allow your body to recuperate but, in the long run, you’ll reap the benefits.
And finally, listen to your body. If you’re sore, tired or your performance is dropping off then you may need to lengthen your recovery time or even take a break from training. But if you’re feeling strong and ready to face the next challenge, then let your body rip and go for it.