Eating well and at the right time can have a significant effect on your ability to recover from a bout of exercise. As a rough guide it is recommended you eat 1 gram of carbohydrates per 1kg bodyweight within an hour after exercising to replace glycogen stores in muscles and liver. Consuming 10-25g of protein in addition to the carbs will aid recovery of muscles.
Compression garments are thought to improve venous return through application of graduated compression to the limbs from proximal to distal. The external pressure created may reduce the intramuscular space available for swelling and promote stable alignment of muscle fibres, attenuating the inflammatory response and reducing muscle soreness.
Massage improves recovery by:
- Increasing blood flow, which improves clearance of metabolic waste products
- Reduces muscle soreness
- Allows for psychological relaxation and recovery.
It’s important to unwind after exercising or even after a stressful day at work, to allow for good sleeping patterns. Relaxation techniques such as visualisation, meditation and breathing techniques may help with this. Debriefing after competition can be very helpful in dealing with the emotional and mental demands of competition. Lastly it always important to have good life balance allows you to devote your energy to training and recovery without over-focussing on it.
Putting it all together (Adapted from: http://www.ausport.gov.au/sportscoachmag/sports_ sciences/post-match_recovery_practices_for_team_sport_athletes)
- Work out fluid deficit and drink 1500mL per Kg of body weight lost. Start drinking cool carbohydrate/sports drinks immediately after exercising. This should continue throughout the recovery session.
- Have carbohydrate-protein snacks readily available for consumption (for example, meal supplement drinks, sports bars, salad and meat sandwiches equaling 50g of carbs and 10-25g of protein – full fat chocolate milk is a good option). Some athletes have difficulty eating soon after matches; therefore a meal replacement drink (for example, Sustagen or Protein Plus) can be useful.
- Five-minute walk/jog (Active Recovery) then into stretching.
- Fifteen-minute recovery circuit, alternating between contrast and active groups:
a) Contrast: hot shower (37–43°C)/ice bath (12–15°C). Hot–cold contrasts should be completed at a ratio of 3:1 (hot:cold)
b) Active: bike/walk/stretch at low intensity
c) Rotate after approximately six minutes
d) Finish with a two-minute ice bath (12–15°C).
- Put on lower body compression garments.
- A post-game meal (that is, two to three hours post-game) should consist of high glycaemic index carbohydrates. Some good examples of these dishes are rice dishes, pasta and/or white bread with protein (for example, meat, chicken, etc.).
- Avoid alcohol and Sleep for a minimum of 8 hours that evening.
Preparation for next training session or competition starts at the end of the previous session and recovery is a vital ingredient in your next performance!