Body recovery is one of the most important, yet most overlooked aspects of racing. What you do during your post race recovery period will directly impact your body’s muscle repair process and ability to bounce back. The rigor of racing has an immense impact on the body both physically and mentally. While many believe that simply resting will be sufficient, this alone will do little to help your body rejuvenate quickly. For more optimal ways to recover, consider these best post race recovery tips.
After intense physical exertion, your muscles respond by building up lactic acid that can result in muscle fatigue. To avoid this, keep your body moving immediately following your activity. Movement helps stimulate blood flow which aids in removing lactic acid from your body and helps you recover faster. Your cooldown effort should be minimal. A slow jog or even a walk is sufficient, just keep moving.
While racing, your body will likely lose a lot of water through sweat. In order to restore that balance, you need to re-hydrate. If you’re racing in hot weather or for a particularly long distance, your body will also lose sodium through sweat. Decreased sodium levels prevent the body from absorbing water. To help your body recover after a race, consume lots of liquid. Also be sure to add in something salty, or add an electrolyte tab to help restore your sodium levels.
One of the best post race recovery tips to speed up muscle repair after a race is by taking an ice bath. This doesn’t need to be long. Less than 10 minutes will do the trick. Being immersed in cold water will help improve blood flow to your muscles and reduce inflammation. If you don’t have access to a tub, a cold shower will also be very advantageous. Be sure to make the water as cold as possible.
Sleep is one of the most effective ways of speeding up your body’s recovery after a grueling race. When sleeping, our blood pressure decreases and our heart rate slows down. As a result, our muscles get less tense, our nervous system relaxes, and blood flows better to muscles. Sleep is ideal for muscle repair due to the release of the Human Growth Hormone. This hormone is at its highest towards the end of sleep, so getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep after a race is essential.
After a race, stretching and gently foam rolling tight muscles will greatly benefit your recovery. These exercises aid your body by loosening sore or tight muscles, and help promote better blood flow. Both of these exercises should be done gently, and should cause no more than minimal discomfort. Yoga is another great form of mobility work that can help stimulate your post race recovery.
While training and racing may occupy most of your thoughts, don’t neglect an equally important aspect, recovery. Recovery is critical for getting your body back in shape to compete at the highest level. Follow these best post race recovery tips to protect yourself from injury, treat tired muscles, and to help your body recuperate more efficiently.