Whether you are new to the fitness scene or you have been an avid gym-goer for some time, it is crucial that you understand and appreciate the importance of recovery. While most of us try our best to stay active and take part in exercise at least a few times a week, many of us aren’t fully aware of what recovery our body needs or how crucial it is to our overall performance and wellbeing.
As more research is being developed, it is becoming even clearer that how we spend our time post-workout is just as important as the exercise and workout itself. Working out takes its toll on our body, and without making the necessary changes to our routine once we have stepped out the gym, you could be threatening your progress and development entirely.
So, here is a guide to understanding the importance of recovery, which will provide you with all the information you need to know so that you can start to include it in your fitness schedule. Happy muscle recovery!
What is recovery?
Firstly, it seems appropriate to discuss what actually is recovery and how it differs from rest or sleep. Many people wrongly assume that recovery just means having a rest day but there is a lot more to it than that. You may be surprised to learn that it isn’t during the workout or training session that your muscles grow and become stronger, they grow in between sessions while they are resting and repairing any micro-tears that have occurred during the workout.
Exercise is a stressful activity for the body, but it is so good for us because every time our body is exposed to the stress it learns to deal and respond to it more effectively. However, without that time to recover and heal, muscles aren’t able to repair the micro-tears, and instead they get bigger and leave your muscles feeling inflamed, sore, and tired.
While the most common consequences of not allowing for recovery time is decreased performance, you can even put yourself at risk of overtraining syndrome. This can leave you feeling exhausted and cause chronic muscle pain, and even compromises your immune system. This proves that your body and your fitness schedule really can’t afford to live without muscle recovery.
What happens during it?
As we have already mentioned, during the recovery period your body adapts to the stress caused during a workout, provides the opportunity for muscle tissue to repair, and also replenishes muscle glycogen which is the major fuel source for energy.
There are two stages of recovery, short-term or immediate recovery and this usually takes place within a couple of hours post-workout and is the form of recovery most commonly used by fitness fanatics. This typically involves a low intensity exercise after an extreme training session to help the body cool down and return to a normal rhythm.
There is also long-term recovery which refers to recovery periods over a longer time frame, such as rest days or weeks scheduled into an annual athletic or training strategy.
How long does it take?
While you can’t pinpoint how long it takes for your muscles to fully recover post-workout, it is recommended that you rest in the following 24 to 72 hours after a session as this is when muscle pain is at its peak. However, you should take into consideration the different factors when deciding on how long your muscle recovery should last, for example how intense your workout was, how long you worked out for, and the foods consumed post-workout.
Generally, a minimum recovery time of 24 hours is acceptable but don’t forget that lack of recovery can hinder your muscle growth and actually set you back on your progress if you push your body too far.
Muscle recovery techniques
While you may assume that recovery is simply about not heading to a HIIT class straight after a long and intense strength training session, recovery and rest are two very different post-workout concepts. Even though allowing your body to rest is crucial to your overall health and performance development, there are recovery techniques that you can implement to help speed up and encourage your muscles from repairing themselves.
Muscle recovery equipment provider, Pulseroll, uses performance enhancing vibration technology to create innovative products that can give your muscles a helping hand. For example, their massage gun uses sharp pulsing vibrations to target individual muscles that have been worked during a workout. This can increase the blood flow to ease inflammation, reduce muscle tightness and relieve post-workout muscle soreness the next day.
You should be sure to take advantage of the technological advances that have occurred across muscle recovery equipment in recent years as they can speed up the recovery process, all from within the comfort of your own home.
Another important part of the recovery process that is often neglected is the need to stay hydrated. While we all know that we should be drinking around 2 litres of water a day, few of us do this in reality. Staying hydrated is also a crucial element of the recovery process, as not only do you need extra water post-workout to replenish what you have lost from sweating during exercise, but your muscles cannot work to full capacity without sufficient hydration. This means that if you aren’t keeping your body hydrated pre-and post-workout then your recovery time will take a lot longer and may be less effective.
When it comes to understanding recovery and why it is important, you should remember that there is no perfect formula that everyone can implement to ensure their muscles are growing and developing. Instead, each individual is different, and you should take into consideration your fitness level, exercise frequency, intensity, and the duration of your workout.
Understanding the importance of recovery is also about listening to your body. If your muscles feel achy and sore, then you know that you need to give them a break and the opportunity to repair. By becoming familiar with the signs your body gives you, and with the help of muscle recovery technology, you will be able to ensure that you provide it with everything it needs to recover from each workout sufficiently. That is how you will ensure that you are stronger than ever next time you go for a workout session.