The best athletes in the world could never perform to their highest potential without a plan for post-workout recovery.
Any activity designed to build strength does so by creating micro-tears in the muscle. Strength does not develop without allowing muscles to engage in proper recovery. Without proper workout recovery, those micro tears or bumps and bruises will turn into injuries.
There are a number of post-workout recovery methods. The length and intensity of each activity should always be taken into consideration, as well as your personal fitness level and goals. Overtraining can be a serious issue. It is crucial to allow the body to rebuild.
Flexibility is an underrated part of athleticism, even for purely strength-based activities. Limited mobility in the lower limbs will prevent the body from being able to execute a proper squat or lunge. This means that muscles cannot build to their full potential.
“I have been more focused on stretching before and after practice to increase my flexibility so that I can use all of my tools. I haven’t always been the most flexible guy, but I know I can throw a head kick. It's important to stay flexible enough to do it. You’ve got to listen to your body.” -Jose “Shorty” Torres, Professional MMA Fighter
Stretching can also relieve muscle tension and assist in minimizing soreness later on. It is important not to stretch cold muscles. If you choose to stretch before a workout, make sure your body is already warmed up a little with some light impact movements such as jogging or jumping rope.
Every health, vitamin or supplement store seems to carry shaker cups, and for good reason. Many in the fitness world have found that having immediate access to protein can make a difference for their post-workout recovery. Many times this is consumed in the form of a protein shake, which is easy to pack and combine with various other nutrients. Protein promotes muscle growth and repair. Generally, 20 to 50 grams are recommended depending on the size and goals of each individual. Keep in mind that a ratio of 2 to 1 carbohydrates to protein will assist in the proper utilization of the protein.
The most commonly recommended form of protein is whey. It is fast-digesting and comprised of ten percent leucine. This amino acid activates protein synthesis. Most other forms of protein only contain five percent leucine. Many people will attest that there is an anabolic window for protein consumption that is within the first 30 to 60 minutes after exercise. This theory has been widely debated, but several studies have rendered results that show benefits in muscle growth and recovery using this nutritional timing.
CBD Oil for Workout Recovery
When competing or training intensely, oxidizing glucose is produced to fuel the body. This process creates free radicals. Antioxidants like those found in CBD oil are molecules that can safely interact with free radicals and break the chain reaction that causes them to damage vital cells. Oxidative stress occurs when the body has too many free radicals and can’t counteract the damage. Damaged cells do not equal optimal performance. Fitness enthusiasts who train regularly will experience less ill effects from oxidative stress. It can still be a factor in recovery and performance after an athlete has pushed the limits of their body.
Inflammation is the immune system’s response to tissue damage. When a significant injury occurs, inflammation also produces pain and stiffness during the healing process. Pain and stiffness may not be a big deal after a normal training session. In fact, it is desirable to create micro-tears in muscles to promote growth. CBD may be able to assist in feeling better faster, naturally.
"After my fight, I put the Receptra Naturals Targeted Topical on my hands and elbows. They were pretty swollen, especially my right elbow. It was hard to move my hands. The topical CBD helped to reduce muscle irritation and swelling. Now I am back in the gym doing stretching and recovery so I am ready for the next one. The Targeted Topical and Active Oil is part of that recovery.” - Ricky Simon, Professional MMA Fighter
Getting enough rest is often harder than it sounds. There are a number of distractions and minute factors that play into our ability to achieve quality shut-eye. The natural production of growth hormone is crucial to a lot of aspects of athletic ability, fitness, and overall health. Growth hormone is released under conditions of sleep. This is also when protein synthesis occurs, assuming a balanced diet containing protein has been consumed.
Energy consumption is reduced during sleep, which allows muscles, organs, and other parts of the body to have a break. Another important body part that also needs to chill out is the brain. Without proper sleep, mental alertness and focus will decline. Performing under sleep-deprived conditions will undoubtedly be sub-par.
Seven to nine hours of sleep a night are recommended. Without proper rest, the body cannot reach a state of balance, also called homeostasis. Several adjustments can be made to achieve a better night’s sleep.
Finishing working out 4 to 6 hours before bed
Do not watch TV or use electronics an hour or more before bed
Soreness that occurs after an intense workout may be associated with the connective tissue throughout the body (fascia) becoming knotted with muscles. This creates uncomfortable and potentially damaging adhesions. There are several ways to break up this scar tissue and reduce stiffness associated with muscle repair.
Foam rollers and other trigger point therapy tools can be used to target areas that have issues. This is referred to as self-myofascial release and can be an easy addition to your fitness schedule. Massage therapy and Active Release Technique (ART) therapy are great for all the areas you cannot get on your own. A good massage or ART therapist will have an eye for issues that you may not have known were associated with certain parts of the body.
“I am pinning a part of the muscle down where I can feel every fiber move under my thumb. When I feel a nerve possibly trapped under some scar tissue I can pin that scar tissue and make the nerve move. It is creating relative motion under the skin rather than just gliding over it. When you can create tension between those layers and actually separate them you get amazing results.” -Matt Myers, A.R.T. massage therapist
Our muscles are over 70 percent water. When they become depleted everything becomes more difficult. This includes athletic performance and post-workout recovery. Protein synthesis happens in the muscle, which essentially means it happens underwater. Less water means slower synthesis and thus, slower workout recovery. Dehydration also increases fatigue and blood volume. This means the heart has to work harder to pump this thicker blood to support the body. An increase in heart rate has also been associated with dehydration. For best results, it is a good idea to keep water with you while training or exercising.
Post-Workout Recovery Plan
Having a plan is important because once the workout is over, it is easy to move on to the next thing without giving your body the recovery it needs. This time is when the body adapts to exercise-induced stress and where gains are made. Without giving your body proper care, you may be missing out on measurable improvements. Don’t skip the recovery protocol.