Athletes don’t necessarily make the best role models when it comes to leading a healthy life. They may train daily, eat well, and keep tabs on their fitness levels, but they also tend to harbor a few poor habits. One of those is that they often ignore rest and recovery.
In truth, recovery is just as big of a part of physical performance as training. And when skipped often enough, it can become the differentiating factor between finishing a race and going home injured.
So, if you’re one of those runners who like to push the limits, this might be the perfect moment to look at a few ways you can take better care of your body. If nothing else, to allow it to perform better next time and help you achieve your running goals for decades to come.
Wear Compression Gear
One of the easiest things you can do to boost performance and speed up recovery is to invest in some compression gear. Wearing compression tights during the day or investing in a pair of recovery boots can increase blood flow and help toxic waste (built up during training) leave your body faster.
Seeing that scientific data backs the claim that using compression gear speeds up recovery, it’s not a bad investment to make, even if you only ever use it after a hard training session.
Have a Daily & Weekly Massage Protocol
Professional athletes often have a massage protocol in place. It can help ease tension and pain and improve mobility. With this in mind, it’s an excellent idea for runners to have a weekly deep tissue massage to help the body recover from training.
However, not all runners can afford a weekly session. In this case, foam rolling may be a suitable alternative. For those looking to boost performance, a pre-workout rolling session is advised. But if you’re feeling muscle pain and want to speed up recovery, it’s better to leave your self-massage for after a workout.
Track Your Sleep
Did you know that poor sleep is directly related to the likelihood of injury occurrence in athletes? A 2019 study followed elite soccer players for six months. It found that those that had inadequate sleep quality or insufficient rest had significantly more musculoskeletal injuries.
With this in mind, it’s easy to conclude that improving your sleep hygiene holds the potential of ensuring proper recovery to avoid injury or illness. Consider investing in a sufficiently supportive mattress to avoid creating additional problems while you rest, as well as tracking your sleep score with a device such as WHOOP or Beddit.
Put Your Feet Up
Some biohackers promote inversion therapy as a great way to recover from a long run, but you don’t have to hang upside down (or take on the risks) to let your body recharge after training.
A simple strategy of putting your feet up against a wall after your daily run can minimize swelling, fatigue, and pain. Ideally, you should keep your legs up for 1 minute for each mile you’ve run.
Hack Your Diet
Finally, it’s important to understand that nutrition plays a huge role in physical performance and injury prevention. Your body needs the right nutrients before, during, and after training. And eating the right foods could help it fix the damage you’ve done with running.
On the whole, the best dietary advice out there is to see a professional who will look at your lab results and make data-based decisions that will have beneficial effects. But if that’s not your thing, you can also try leading a food journal, paying attention to how you feel and what you’re craving, avoiding inflammatory foods, and perhaps even giving intermittent fasting a try.
Do What Works for You
As you can see, there are multiple strategies you can try to help your body recharge after training.
But while experts digress on most methods, one thing is constant: an efficient training program must include sufficient rest. Other than that, you can experiment with the methods we’ve talked about here. Or, try a few fringe tactics like acupuncture or cryotherapy. If they make you feel less run-over after a hard run, then there’s something in it for you.
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