5 recovery tips for your next tough workout
Got a HIIT session planned or a long, tough run? A good recovery plan is crucial for your gains. Sports physiotherapist Mark Alexander, who’s worked with the Australian Olympic Team, knows a thing or three about keeping athletes fit to train. Check out his expert pointers for a speedy and safe recovery, whatever your workout.
1. Warm-up: It’s critical to warm up effectively. Get your sweat up with 10-15 minutes of light exercise and target those specific areas of tightness and stability before you start exercising.
2. Flexibility: General and specific flexibility are the key to injury prevention and recovery from intense workouts. Specific flexibility is relative to your activities and sports – for example, mid-back thoracic flexibility is key for overhead athletes, swimmers and throwers and can be increased by using a small, portable device called BakBalls. Ankle, calf and hip flexor flexibility is key for runners. Stretching these areas for just 1 minute can really help to increase flexibility.
3. Stability: Abdominal, pelvic and hip stability is important for effective recovery from running sports and shoulder stability is critical for shoulder athletes. Key exercises for these athletes are Pilates-style and Swiss ball exercises.
4. Strength: Sports-specific strength is very important in order to effectively perform in given sports and activities as well as to recover well from sports. Runners, for instance, should train their quads, gluteal and calf-strength endurance through single-leg squats, lunges and calf raises.
5. Try these recovery activities…
Cool down: 10-15 minutes of light exercise is critical after an intense workout to recover fast.
Ice baths: Legs (running athletes) or full-body (if you’re playing contact and full-body sports) ice baths are critical for fast recovery from intense training sessions. Methods vary but 5 x (45 seconds in an ice bath and 5 mins of light exercise (such as swimming)) is what we used to do with the Australian Olympic triathlon team.
Massage: A couple of massages a week can help you to become aware of tight areas and loosen them in order to prevent injuries. Self-massage using products like BakBalls is a key component to self-manage at home after intense workouts.
Sleep: This is a critical component to recover from intense workouts. The Olympic triathletes would sleep (or at the least, rest) every afternoon for 1-2 hours to allow their body to recover.
Treatments: If any issues arise from workouts or from the massages, specific physical therapy treatment may be required to treat issues and prevent them from becoming injuries.