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Elements of Rest and Recovery...

Elements of Rest and Recovery

1. Sleep Getting adequate levels of sleep is important because it helps to provide you with mental health, hormonal balance and muscular recovery. You need to get enough sleep, which is between 6-8 hours for most athletes. Everyone has individual needs based on their lifestyle, workouts and genetic makeup. It has been proven that the hours slept before twelve midnight are more effective than those slept afterwards. Sleep in the most natural setting possible, with minimal to no artificial lights and wake up with the sun if possible. Fresh air and cooler temperatures will help to improve the quality of sleep.

2. Hydration Drinking adequate amounts of water is critical to health, energy, recovery and performance. Athletes tend to be very attentive to hydration levels close to and during competitions, but keeping that awareness during training and recovery times can have just as large an impact, leading to more efficient nutrient uptake, lower levels of stress on the heart, improved skin tone and better hair quality. The simplest way to check hydration is to look at your pee. If it is clear to pale yellow you are hydrated. The darker coloured your pee is, the less hydrated you are and the more water you will need to drink. Water is the best way to hydrate. Sports drinks are only needed for before, during and after strenuous training or completion. Don’t drink them simply because they taste good. Flavourings and other additives simply give your system more to process and cause it further strain. Stick to adding a lemon or lime.

3. Nutrition Everything you eat has the ability to heal your body or poison it. This may sound strong, but alcohol and processed foods contain toxins that are harmful to the body. I do not like to recommend a specific diet, but eating clean and balanced meals in moderation has proven to be an effective way to stay healthy and increase your performance. Dairy and wheat are processed differently by everyone and so you need to educate yourself on these topics and how they personally affect you. Some people process these food items very well and have no side effects, while other people have slight to severe autoimmune reactions. Start with a diet as your base template and add to it, based on your own experiences, not what you read. Food in our society goes far beyond fuelling the body, so it is not always a simple choice. Not only do we go out to dinner, most other social events also involve food. The key is achieving a balance so that you can achieve the results you want, while also functioning as a normal person and enjoying life. Create a meal plan, shop ahead for the week and have healthy snacks readily available that you enjoy. Plan ahead for dinner out by helping to pick the place you’re eating and looking at the menu ahead of time.

4. Posture This is one of the least focused on areas in Western culture. We spend on average spend more time sitting than any other country does in the world, and as a general trend have bad posture. This is not a restful position, as sitting or standing with bad posture is harmful. It can lead to back or neck pain, especially if you have a desk job. Find a chair that is ergonomically correct. If you struggle to sit upright, use a foam roller or ball in your back to give you a tactile cue and help force good posture. Don’t lean to one side or on an object for support while standing.

5. Stretching You need enough flexibility to move well and remain pain-free. Include dynamic stretching in your warm-ups while saving static stretching for after your workouts. Attempt to self-identify tight areas and work on them. Don’t get caught doing the exact same stretches you’ve always done. If you don’t know any new ones, try to use one from the yoga positions in chapter 16.

Heat, ice and compression

Use these techniques to recover from injuries or a very stressful training. Spending additional time focusing on rest and recovery can pay dividends, beyond the benefits that you get from the additional training time.

It’s essentially legal performance enhancement, yet people don’t take advantage of these techniques because they take time. Dedicating additional time primarily to the three categories of sleep, hydration, and nutrition will increase your output ability, decrease recovery time and lower your risk of injury. It’s not essential to have a cold or hot bath or shower after a workout, but if you need to go back to work or go out for the day or evening it’s essential! Over the past few years, you may have known that footballers and athletes have cold or ice baths straight after a game.

The reason behind this is to prevent or reduce any inflammation from injuries that may have occurred during the game. It can also help with a faster recovery, but it’s quite painful and not recommended for the average person. A warm bath or shower is a better option for you immediately after training, as it will help you to feel cleansed and more relaxed.

It’s a great idea to stretch the hamstrings in the bath as the muscles are more relaxed and pliable with warm water.


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