If you’re in good shape, work out and used to have tons of energy, but now feel like you’re dragging yourself to your next exercise session, read on. Like most of us, you are probably not paying enough attention to your post-workout recovery. We all know to ‘stretch and rest’, but there’s more that you can do to repair your body. Here are five simple tips to help you feel great and ready for your next session.
Compression garments aid in post-running recovery
1. Invest in a good set of compression garments
Compression garments are basically very snug-fitting tops, bottoms and even socks, with strategically placed seams or panels designed to compress muscles. After a hard workout, metabolic waste builds up in your muscles and causes swelling and soreness. Compression garments prevent the build-up of these fluids and lactic acid by promoting better circulation. You can wear these garments during a workout or put them on after. For instance, whenever I run farther than 15 kilometres at a stretch, I usually wear long compression tights to sleep that night. Most sporting goods stores stock a wide range of compression garments. You can get a good pair from places like Running Lab (#02-31 Funan DigitaLife Mall, 109 North Bridge Rd., 63366775) or Nike (#02-21 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Rd., 65133151).
Reduce muscle tension and improve upper body flexibility
2. Massage yourself
Get a cheap massage ball. Sporting goods stores or physiotherapy clinics sell these rubber balls which are the size of a grapefruit, with rounded ‘spikes’, that are great for delivering self-administered deep-tissue massages. Alternatively, any old tennis ball will do the trick as well. The way to do a DIY sports massage is to lay on the floor with the ball between the floor and your aching body part, and let your body weight push you down onto the ball. For instance, to massage the outside of your thigh, lay on your side, prop up your upper body with your arms (sort of in a sleeping Buddha position), while slowly rolling your outer thigh on the ball. The trick is to move the ball in small, circular motions to loosen tight muscle fibres and encourage better circulation.
3. Go for a dip!
Try and fit in a relaxed, recovery swim after your workout. Most exercise involves your body weight bearing down on you, and the buoyancy of water relieves that, easing muscles, joints and ligaments. The slow movement of your limbs will also encourage circulation to get rid of metabolic waste.
4. Take a cold bath
Fill your tub with cool tap water and some ice cubes, getting the temperature down to about 10 degrees Celsius, and soak your sore muscles for about 10 minutes. The cold water causes muscles to contract, which flushes out metabolic waste more quickly, and is also believed to be able to heal microscopic tears. If you don’t have a tub, even a pail of ice cold water to soak your calves in will do wonders after a long run.
5. Shake it off
During a workout, your body produces cortisol, a stress-related hormone that inhibits muscle repair. After a workout, you have a 30-minute window to decrease the stress response of exercise, to limit the release of cortisol. The easiest and quickest way to do this is by ingesting protein and carbohydrates to facilitate muscle repair and recovery. One easy way is to just combine soy milk, whey protein powder, a banana and some dried oats in a blender for a thick power shake!
Everest Girl is Jane Lee, who is seldom found stationary. She is an accomplished mountain-climber, having recently reached the summit of the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest. When she is not climbing her way around the world, Jane devotes an inordinate amount of time to training for her next climb, marathon, or adventure sport. A serious endorphin addict, Jane ranks trail running high on her list of loves, and has pounded mud, sand, gravel and rocks on trails in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and her staple favourite, MacRitchie Reservoir. Her favourite motto? “If you’re still standing, then you’re not done yet.”