Rest and recovery are essential to any workout program, so no matter how much you wish to build muscles or tone up your body, you have to give it time. During an intense exercise, you usually put your body through a considerable amount of stress, and it needs a certain time to repair and rebuild, typically between 24 to 48 hours. Thus, what are you doing during this specific period? Post-training recovery exercises and some activities can help you unwind your body and mind. We know that after a long and arduous workout, the last thing you want is to engage in another training session. Most athletes simply go on a run or replenish with a protein shake, which is not wrong, ignoring that their body needs much more.
The body and brain go hand-in-hand to help you achieve the desired results, but you have to let them do so. That is why we found it especially useful to discuss some relaxation practices and techniques in the following that, if adopted regularly, can work wonders. So, let us see what it is all about!
Sometimes, we are so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we forget the most crucial of our daily needs – get some sleep. And yes, the same goes for athletes. So, if you are one of those individuals constantly preoccupied with the health of their body and sports, you should by no means omit sleep from your recovery program. Having a restful night’s sleep can give your body enough time to rejuvenate and recover, as, during this simple yet so vital process, the body produces growth hormones. These hormones, in turn, rebuild the muscles used during your workout, promoting recovery even after a tough training session.
The average number of hours of sleep is usually between 7 and 9 hours, but it varies from person to person. In the case of athletes, it also depends on the intensity of training. However, listening to your body to properly deduct the amount of sleep that will be helpful on your muscle recovery journey is crucial. Most athletes sleep for an average of 10 to 12 hours and grab some z’s during the day to allow their bodies to stay strong during the post-training period.
If you tend to be stressed out any time before a competition, you are more likely to spend a sleepless night, and this will only get things worse. So, ensure you pay enough attention to your night routine – this can mean indulging in a long, relaxing bath, calming drink, or practicing mindfulness. CBD products, for example, are of great help in stressful situations, having the power to unwind an anxious mind. Athletes use cannabidiol quite often, as it has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. So, if you are looking for something to help with both muscle recovery and sleep, you may want to consider CBD. Or, if you are a bit more adventurous, try typing “delta 8 near me” into your browser – delta 8 is another compound of cannabis that has just the same properties as CBD, with the mention that it is psychoactive like its brother, THC, but not at that intensity.
Since muscles are mainly 75 percent water, drinking water has become a vital need and a necessity for muscle recovery after training. It is essential for any athlete to drink enough water, as it increases fluid levels that might have been lost during a workout. Generally, athletes tend to lose up to 9 pounds of liquids per hour, a considerable amount that needs to be replenished. Drinking water also readjusts the pH levels often diminished after a workout, normalizes body temperature, flushes out metabolic waste, and transports critical nutrients to the organisms. In other words, it should not be missed from your daily diet, particularly if you are a hard-working sportsperson.
Progressive muscular relaxation
Once you are mindful of the above-mentioned habits, you can jump to progressive muscular relaxation (PMR). This strategy implies concentrating on gradually tensing and then relaxing particular muscle groups. The main purpose of this technique, derived from Edmund Jacobson’s work in the ‘30s, is to make the athlete understand the distinction between tension and no-tension. Thus, by relaxing relevant muscle groups, one at a time, the individual becomes aware of the moment tension arises and starts reducing it. This program, although promising, was initially a bit criticized, as it would not be that reachable for a regular performer. Thus, several sports psychologists, including Graham Jones, have promoted an alternative to Jacobson’s approach, which aims to teach an athlete to relax within 20 to 30 seconds. To reach that objective, the sportsperson will undergo various relaxation training phases, usually over a period of about three months.
A similar technique meant to make performers more aware of muscular tension is biofeedback (BFB). This focuses on helping athletes understand some of the many autonomic nervous system (ANS) responses, such as HR, muscular activity, and respiration rate.
Practicing mindfulness has never been more helpful, particularly since people are exposed to considerable stress due to both work and personal life. But it can be hard to believe that mindfulness could be effective in the case of athletes. After all, what has one to do with the other? Well, more than you may think. There are various forms of mindfulness training that guide the performer to work on concentration by directing their attention to the breathing sensation. Everything from emotions and thoughts to body sensations is thus put aside so that the individual can focus only on the breathing exercise and be directed to recognize the things that may distract their mind nonjudgmentally. Not only does the such practice help people become more knowledgeable about their stressors, but it also helps athletes to overcome the stress associated with training. There is also transcendental meditation that does pretty much the same thing, but instead of focusing on breathing, individuals are this time focused on a phrase or keyword – mantra – that has a certain meaning, like “relax.”
It is much easier for athletes to rebuild their muscles and relax after a long and challenging workout if with some of the above-mentioned habits.