We’ve all been there: You’re crunched for training time and you had to skip yesterday’s workout because life got in the way. So you skip your recovery day to fit in another workout and get caught up. There’s no harm in skipping your workout recovery routine just this once, right?
However, whether you have an intense training day or a light workout, skipping your recovery routine could spell disaster later on. Whether it’s skipping it altogether or doing it wrong, you could end up injured, in more pain, and it could even be setting yourself further back on your fitness goals.
Why Should I Bother With A Workout Recovery Routine?
When you workout – regardless of intensity – your body goes through stress. Stress and pressure are put on your tissues and joints. Without a recovery, your body does not get the rest it needs to recuperate from the stress. When you don’t recover properly you run the risk of overtraining – one of the most common causes of injuries and lack of motivation. The reality is that you should be building adequate workout recovery time into your training routine. It shouldn’t be thought of as something separate or different, but rather a part of it – similar to how you build cross-training into your regimen.
During the recovery time, your training is actually taking effect while your body adapts to the stress of the workout. Your body is able to recuperate energy, repair any damages caused by the stress, and get ready for the next workout. The best tip for workout recoveries is to never skip it and to take it just as seriously as your training routine. Here are some other tips for recovering from a workout the proper way.
1. Don’t Neglect The Short-Term Or Long-Term Recoveries
There are two types of workout recoveries: long-term and short-term. Most often, when people speak of workout recovery, they are referring to the long-term recovery. This type of recovery is what is built into your overall training schedule. It includes rest days and active rest days. Sometimes, long-term recovery can even be up to weeks depending on what proceeds it – such as running a triathlon, competing in a tournament, or other high-intensity physical activity that lasts for hours. You should take the long-term recovery just as seriously as your overall training. Skipping this is the main reason for overtraining, injury, and even sickness.
The second type of workout recovery is the short-term recovery, often referred to as the active recovery or cool-down phase of a workout. It should happen after every workout regardless of intensity – although intensity will definitely determine length and type of recovery you’ll need. Active recovery includes gradually decreasing intensity from an exercise, as opposed to just stopping – for example, walking after running. The cool-down phase includes proper stretching, and even massages and ice baths if necessary.
Both the short-term and long-term workout recoveries are an essential part of a training regimen.
2. Stretch Properly
Whether it’s part of your cool-down or on your recovery day, focusing on flexibility can help aid in muscle movement and prepare your body for the next exercise. Although proven to be inconclusive, stretching has always been believed to be beneficial for injury prevention. However, stretching does have a significant influence on how the body reacts to stress from quick movements like bouncing and jumping. Based on workout and exercising, not including stretching in your workout recovery could lead to tight and stiff muscles that respond slower during your next workout. This could mean an increased risk of injury.
3. Cross-Training As Part Of Your Active Recovery
Yes, depending on intensity, cross-training can certainly be part of your active recovery. The point of cross-training is to work the supporting muscles for your regular training. Strengthening the supporting muscles is part of a well-rounded injury-prevention program. On a cross-training day, your allowing your most used muscles to actively recover, while working other parts of your body. Such cross-training and active recovery can include yoga, a light form of Pilates, cycling, swimming, and walking.
4. Get Good Quality Sleep
Sleep is the best way that the body has for relaxing and restoration. Without a good quality night’s sleep, you’re more likely to make a mistake. You could have a misstep during your next training day. This could lead to a traumatic injury like a rolled ankle, busted knee, a fall, or a collision. Furthermore, we all know how lack of sleep can affect our mentality. Lack of sleep can make you mentally weaker. This can drive down your training and make it harder to perform up to par when you need to.
In the end, not getting enough sleep or skipping your recovery routine could have such negative impacts on your training that you set yourself back. If you want to reach your fitness goals and have better performance, don’t skip the recovery. Take it just as seriously as your training.