Top 8 Tips for the Best Recovery after a Tough Training Session
You know what they say – recovery is just as important as training when it comes to building fitness and performance ability. The treatment of your body, in terms of the food/drink you consume and level of physical therapy completed, has a direct impact on how your body adjusts to your cycle training regime… and competition results.
This is partly why there is such a hunger to better understand the relationship between recovery off-track and results on-track, with revolutionary research findings meaning the difference between a win or loss…and risk of injury. But research has become so in-depth that it can become confusing and counter-productive, so we have gone back to basics.
The 8 Must-Do Tips for Optimal Training Recovery
1. Cool Down
Ever feel lightheaded after a cycling session? It could be from a poor or non-existent cool-down. When your legs are pumping away, the blood vessels in your leg expand. Without slowing down for a few easy minutes afterwards, your blood remains in your legs and doesn’t circulate properly. What you may not know is this limits the body’s ability to transfer fresh nutrient and oxygen-rich blood in and dispose paste out. Two fundamentals in the muscle repair and recovery process.
2. Massage Therapy
Similar to the above, massaging your muscles in the days after a tough ride is crucial to effective blood flow. Booking in with a massage therapist is fantastic, but we don’t all have the time and money to dedicate to this several times in a week. Rolling your muscles over a firm foam roller or tennis/massage ball not only removes fluid waste from muscle breakdown and encourages fresh, healing blood flow, but it also breaks down muscle tightness.
When your body is dehydrated, your blood becomes thick and more difficult to transfer throughout the body. Water may be sufficient for shorter rides, although sometimes your body is already dehydrated from the day/night prior to something stronger is always a wise idea. Adding a pinch of salt to your water tricks your body into working harder to absorb the liquid, or choosing your favourite recovery drink is a good option.
4. Eat Right
Another obvious one but the importance of nutrition, particularly before and after a workout, should never be underestimated. Easier training sessions such as an hour commute to work shouldn’t require any dramatic changes in diet. Basically, you want to restore the nutrients and energy lost during a workout, so longer and tough rides should mean you’re eating more protein and carbs. Protein assists in the build and repair of muscles, while carbs boost glycogen levels and provide energy.
5. Quality Rest
After your body has worked so hard during the day, you should aim for 7-8 hours of quality shut-eye. It has been proven to be incredibly healing, with muscle-building hormones surging when we’re asleep. It’s also important to avoid putting your body under further strain and stress, so your body has time to create new proteins and build muscle.
Professional athletes sweat by compression clothing, which have been known for promoting blood circulation and reducing swelling. For this reason, they’re particularly beneficial after a tough session or race, driving home or having a rest day.
Another tried and true tactic for reducing swelling and encouraging blood movement. It’s an easy enough habit to get in to and can make a real difference to recover. While watching TV on scrolling through your phone, place your legs up against a wall or over the side of the couch for 5 minutes per hour ridden.
8. Recovery Ride
Although the jury is still out on this one, many athletes have found a relatively short and easy ride to effectively aid in recovery. It makes sense, increasing blood movement throughout the body, but it’s a fine line. Be sure to keep your heart rate relatively low, so your body can continue adjusting to your training session.