As an athlete getting better, faster, and stronger is understandably your top priority. However, your dedication to your workout and your commitment to proper recovery are equally important. For starters, neglecting essential recovery time could lead to joint and muscle pain and exhaustion. You could also find yourself suffering major sports injuries that take longer to recover from or could even put you out of the game for good.
With regular training, your body is put through the ringer in order to turn it into a well-oiled machine. However, like any powerful machine, it requires proper care in order to work at peak performance. That’s why allowing your muscles to recover after exercise is necessary, so they can repair from the stress and tears and work at full capacity next time you head out to the field, track, or court.
Here are a few of the best muscle recovery tips for athletes:
#1: Taking Rest Days
If fitness or sports are your passion, it can be difficult to step away, even just for a day. However, rest days are important, especially for those who have demanding workout regimens.
Instead of viewing your rest days as wasted time or detracting from your workout routine, think of them as a factor that helps you maintain balance. On your rest days, you don’t have to sit around on the couch all day. The point is to give your muscles the opportunity to recover, but you should still stretch and maybe even do some light exercise such as yoga or walking.
Scheduling your rest days is up to you, but if you’re in a phase where you’re working out harder than usually, say preparing for a competition, you may need up to 48 hours between workouts.
Proper hydration is an essential for any serious athlete. Drinking enough water and fluids before, during, and after your workout carries oxygen to the cells in your muscles, allowing them to push through your workout and recover after. While plain water is the most obvious solution and should be your go-to, you can also try other fluids that are rich with hydrating and cellular nutrients like CBD water.
Not sure how you feel about CBD? Learn more about how CBD affects athletic performance and make that call for yourself. We will say, however, that it can help with a lot of factors that contribute to better performance like aiding sleep and recovery, and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
#3: Prioritize Sleep
Sleep plays a critical role in muscle recovery. While you sleep, your body undergoes complex processes that focus on repairing and strengthening different systems within the body, including your muscles.
Make sure you get the recommended 7 to 9 hours per night, which is essential for reaching a deep state of sleep. During this phase the body focuses on muscle recovery through protein synthesis and increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients delivered to your muscles—all of which helps with recovery as well as muscle growth. Plus, this way you are well-rested for your next big game or training session.
Try using an app that tracks your sleep cycle to help you ensure you’re getting the sleep you need.
#4: Eat the Right Foods
Being an athlete, you’re probably pretty in-tune with your nutrition (you probably even use an app to optimize your fitness and nutrition plan). But in case you didn’t know, there are certain foods that are recommended for helping specifically with muscle recovery. Foods that can help speed up muscle repair include:
- Cottage cheese
You can also try drinking tart cherry juice, chocolate milk, or a protein shake. In addition to foods that can help with muscle repair, there are also some substances that can hinder it. After an especially hard workout you may want to avoid alcohol.
Whether you play soccer or compete in jiu jitsu, muscle recovery is essential to your growth and safety as an athlete. Depending on your lifestyle and training schedule, figure out how you can integrate these 4 tips into your routine so you can play at your best, all the time. If you’re not sure what will work best for you, you can also consult a specialist or use an app to calibrate the most effective routine, diet, and sleep schedule for you.