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7 Effective Post Workout Recovery Methods

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Undertaking certain activities after a race or hard workout may enhance recovery. Many of the recovery methods below speed recovery by:

  • Slightly increasing the heart rate
  • Increasing blood flow to the muscles
  • Accelerating the inflow of nutrients
  • Reducing soreness
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Relaxing the nervous system

Experiment to find the things that work best for you.

Recovery Method 1: Hot Shower or Bath

Immediately following the cool down and recovery drink, take a hot shower or bath for Ten to fifteen minutes. Don’t linger, especially in the bath tub as you will dehydrate even more.

Recovery Method 2: Active Recovery

For the experienced athlete one of the best recovery methods is to pedal easily for 30 minutes on a bike several hours after your hard workout and before you go to bed.

The intensity needs to be extremely light with your heart rate well below Zone 1. Light exercise in water can also be effective.

If you’ve traveled away for a race, swim or merely paddle about in the hotel pool for a few minutes late in the day before winding down for the day. Inexperienced athletes are better off just relaxing.

Recovery Method 3: Massage

Apart from sleep, most athletes find a massage by a professional masseuse is the most effective recovery method. A post race rub should employ long, flushing strokes to speed the removal of the waste products of exercise.

Deep massage at this time may increase muscle trauma. After about 3 days, the therapist may apply increased point pressure, working more deeply.

Due to the expense of massage, some athletes prefer self massage. After a hot bath or shower, stroke the muscles for 20 – 30 minutes, working away from the extremities and toward the heart.

Recovery Method 4: Sauna

Several hours after a workout or race, you might find that a dry sauna speeds recovery. Do not use a steam room as it will have the exact opposite effect.

Stay in the sauna for no more than 10 minutes and be sure to drink fluids while you are in there.

Recovery Method 5: Relax and Stretch

Sit back and be lazy for several hours. Your body wants quality rest. Stay off your feet whenever you can. Never stand when you can lean against something. Sit down when ever possible. Even better lay on the floor with your feet raised against a wall or furniture.

Sit down on the floor and stretch gently. Overused muscles tighten and can’t seem to relax on their own. This is best immediately after a hot bath or sauna and just before you go to bed.

Recovery Method 6: Walk in the Park or Forest

A couple of hours after finishing a difficult workout or race, a short slow walk in a heavily vegetated area such as a park or forest generally seems to speed recovery for some. Abundant oxygen as well as the aroma of grass, trees and other plants are soothing.

Recovery Method 7: Other Methods

The sports program of the former Soviet Union developed a science of recovery and employed several methods with their athletes that may or may not be accessible to you. Many are also unproven in scientific literature.They included:

  • Electromuscular stimulation
  • Ultrasound
  • Barometric chambers
  • Sport psychology
  • Pharmacological supplements including vitamins, minerals and adaptogens like ginseng.

These require expert guidance.

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