What Is Athlete Recovery?

Posted December 16, 2022 by in Health + Fitness
people running on track aerial view

Keeping fit and exercising is a must for all of us so we can live happy, healthy lives. If you’re training towards a specific goal, like lifting a certain weight or running a marathon, recovery will be essential when it comes to how you perform and progress. Giving your body the help it needs to train at its best includes the correct nutrition, sleep and time to recover. Below, we’ll take a closer look at why athlete recovery is so important, and how you can ensure your body is prepared for the training plan you’re working with.

person tying black sneakers

What is recovery for athletes?

If you work out – whether that’s with weights, running, or swimming – you are exerting your body, and pushing it to its limits. Recovery is a way of restoring what you’ve lost during your workout. The calories that you’ve burnt are energy that you’ve used to help you lift heavier and run faster and further, so during recovery, you need to put the energy back into your body. Similarly, you put your muscles, bones, and mind through a tough workout too, so recovery means that your body can rest and recover from exertion, allowing you to reduce the risk of becoming burnt out, and picking up an injury. There are various things you can do to help your body recover correctly which we will look at in more detail below. 

Why is it important? 

If you’re trying to reach a specific goal, recovery may be the last thing on your mind – you may be thinking that to get stronger and faster, you have to complete consistent, hard workouts. But that’s not actually true. If you have goals in mind to get better at your chosen sport, you have to allow time for adaptation recovery. Adaptation is the term we use to describe getting stronger and faster, to progress and achieve your goals. If you’re trying to gain muscle, and lift heavier, recovery is essential so that your adaptations can take place. If you work out too soon after a particularly difficult session, your workout may not have as much of the desired effect as you’d hoped. To progress, give your body time to recover. 

Best ways for athletes to recover 

If you’re working out regularly, and you’re hoping to gain muscle, get faster or run further, recovery is going to be a key part of the process – but where do you start? Here are a few ways in which you can help your body recover fully to get the most from your workouts. 

Foam rolling 

If you spend a lot of time in the gym, you’ll likely have seen a foam roller. Although the impact that they have on long-term recovery is not as good as other methods, you may find that they help to reduce muscle soreness from a hard workout and can help you warm up – which is key when it comes to avoiding injuries. If you’re completing hard workouts regularly, a foam roller may be as helpful as other options.  

Sleep 

One of the best ways to focus on recovery is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. When you sleep, your body enters a metabolic and hormonal environment that helps to repair muscles and prepare you for your next workout. Make sure that you get into the habit of sleeping for 7-8 hours a night, each night to ensure that your recovery is the best it can be. 

Nutrition 

As we mentioned, recovery is a way of replacing what was lost. And when we think about what is lost when we exercise, three main factors play an important role, they are water, which is lost through sweating, sodium which is lost in the same way and muscle glycogen, which is what happens when your body performs exercise. If you don’t fuel your body correctly, it will not perform as well as you’d like, and the same goes for if you don’t replenish it. A high protein diet can help rebuild your muscles and various supplements can help aid recovery too – like protein shakes, and other supplements like amino acids and beetroot. Making sure you are taking in what you have lost is essential. 

Read more: