The effort you invest in a training session can be undone if your recovery techniques aren’t up to scratch and your body takes longer to repair itself. And, though it might sound contradictory, good recovery doesn’t start when the session ends.
Effective warm-up exercises that prepare muscles for the workout to come will also aid the quick recovery of those same muscles afterwards.
With that in mind, here are a duo of proven pre- and post-training session suggestions to help speed up your body’s recuperation...
Prepare your body for the exercise to come and you’ll recover faster. Here are two essential moves...
Arm swings for swim
As a dry-side warm-up for a swim session, this involves the gentle mobilisation of your arms and legs that help to lubricate the joint capsules and gently increase the heart rate prior to getting in the water. Start by swinging each arm forwards then backwards for 10-15secs each.
For an extra challenge, rotate one arm forward and one backwards at the same time. For your legs, gently swing them forwards and backwards, again each for 10-15secs. Follow this by standing on one leg and swinging the other one side-to-side in front of the standing leg.
Dynamic stretches for running
Dynamic stretches gradually increase flexibility and the range of muscle motion to slightly greater than what’ll be required during the training session.
Two typical dynamic stretches before a run session would be heel flicks and high knees. Over a distance of 5-10m, run with an emphasis on flicking your heels up towards your bottom. In doing so, you’ll be gradually lengthening your quadricep muscles.
For high knees over a similar distance, run in an upright position, lifting your knees until your upper leg is parallel to the floor. This’ll gradually lengthen your hamstrings. These can be repeated 3-4 times each to ensure you’re ready to start the main effort of the run session.
Once you’ve stretched out, these techniques will assist your body in beating muscle fatigue
A foam roller is a great tool in recovery. A form of self-massage, it helps relax tight areas of muscle and assists in shifting waste products of exercise away from the muscles to be broken down and removed from the body. Using a foam roller is easy and almost any muscle can be rolled (with extra attention paid to those that are particularly tight).
Placing the foam roller under a particular muscle, use the weight of the body to apply pressure and gently roll up and down the muscle using slower actions around particularly tender spots. This can be for as short or as long a period as desired and usually a few hours after training has been completed for the day.
Using a combination of hot and cold water therapy and mobilisation will help increase blood flow around the body, removing waste products from the muscles and bringing new oxygen and energy to help replenish the muscle ready for the next session.
Performed either immediately after exercise or a few hours later, an ideal situation would be to have hot and cold pools to be able to move between and walk around in. If you’re not able to access these (like most of us!), using hot and cold water from a shower will be a good start.
Hold the cold shower water over your legs for 2mins, before swapping to warm water for a further 2mins. Repeat several times. Try staying mobile afterwards in order to increase the removal of the waste products and to keep the blood pumping around your body.