Friday, February 3, 2017

Recovery Day or Rest Day?

I've talked about recovery before in my 2016 posts on June 17 and June 24 (click on the links to find those posts). Today I'm highlighting more information on how crucial recovery is for your body's health.

Recovery is designed into a workout program to speed the vascular system's ability to help remove waste products and to repair and rehabilitate damaged tissue into stronger, faster and more powerful neuromuscular units. Techniques such as active exercise recovery, thermotherapy and manual therapy are designed to stimulate vascular pumping. It is beneficial for total health to avoid passive recovery, meaning rest only, during your workout week.

An active recovery workout on the day after a challenging workout can enable exercisers to continue their training and keep contributing to aerobic capacity. It reduces lactate levels and acidosis in muscles. It is most effective when combined with other methods. Low-intensity exercise has been shown to reduce chronic inflammatory markers. Additionally, the hydrostatic effect of water immersion with a swim recovery day helps to increase the blood-pumping mechanism needed for metabolite clearance.

Thermotherapy can consist of cold and hot compresses, cold and hot ointments, and cold or warm baths. Cold therapies primarily rely on acute effects that decrease metabolic activity, reduce swelling and inflammation and alleviate pain through nerve analgesia. Heat therapies increase metabolic activity, and increase muscle pliability. The combined effects most likely speed the vascular shuttling process for the removal of muscle damage byproducts and the addition of tissue repair agents. Contrast therapy is the combination of cold and heat therapies.

Manual therapy is a good partner to heat therapy. Heat has the ability to reduce perceived pain and increase muscle pliability and length. Manual therapy is applied with foam rollers and massage balls (self massage) or by coach/trainer massage. Assisted stretch can be beneficial in addition to manual therapy to assist in reducing lactate levels.

Sleep is the ultimate recovery to help your body repair itself. Sleep enhances the muscle-building effect of exercise by increasing protein-synthesis and allowing the nervous system return to a para-sympathetic state. Sleep boosts the levels of human growth hormone and reduces inflammatory chemicals. Arrange your workout week to allow for 7 - 9 hours of sleep each night.

Stay Active, Recover Wisely and 
Enjoy Your Food

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