EX­ER­CISE & RE­COV­ERY Why proper re­cov­ery from ex­er­cise is so im­por­tant

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Kusal Goonewar­dena

Re­cov­er­ing prop­erly af­ter ex­er­cise is key to reach­ing new heights as it al­lows your body to heal. Re­cov­ery is one way that elite ath­letes sep­a­rate them­selves from the rest of us. While the per­sonal bests gen­er­ate head­lines, elite ath­letes know that they can only keep push­ing when they re­cover prop­erly.

But so many of us are time-poor and sleep de­prived. While we may find a way to fit in ex­er­cise amid ca­reers, fam­ily and more, our re­cov­ery time may be lack­ing. Some big road­blocks to re­cov­ery in­clude not get­ting enough sleep and re­ward­ing our­selves with al­co­hol, sug­ary drinks and fast food af­ter ex­er­cise.


You can­not re­cover prop­erly when de­hy­drated. We are 70% fluid and need to re­place what is lost. A sim­ple test is to no­tice the colour of your urine – a straw or clear colour is good. A darker yel­low colour says you are de­hy­drated. Un­for­tu­nately, re­ward­ing your­self with wine or beer af­ter ex­er­cise will cause de­hy­dra­tion and in­ter­fere with your re­cov­ery. It’s the same for sug­ary soft drinks and caf­feine-packed en­ergy drinks. Ath­letes are so con­cerned about their hy­dra­tion lev­els that they weigh them­selves be­fore and af­ter games. Hap­pily, the rest of us need not be so ob­ses­sive.

2. Avoid en­ergy drinks.

En­ergy drinks do not help re­cov­ery. The high con­cen­tra­tions of caf­feine give you a short-term boost but may de­hy­drate you and does noth­ing to help your body. Ex­cess con­sump­tion may also be dan­ger­ous to the heart. Only con­sume sports drinks with ex­er­cise, as this pro­vides bet­ter hy­dra­tion be­cause they con­tain sodium and mag­ne­sium that is lost in sweat­ing, so are ideal dur­ing or af­ter ex­er­cise. But only take th­ese when ex­er­cis­ing, not as a so­cial drink.

3. Sleep.

Sleep is na­ture’s way of help­ing our body and mind re­cover. Ath­letes know that sleep is so crit­i­cal for their per­for­mance that they keep a sleep di­ary. Yet sleep doesn’t come easy to Aus­tralians, with be­tween 33-45% of us hav­ing poor sleep pat­terns, ac­cord­ing to the Sleep Health Foun­da­tion. Busy women jug­gling

Re­cov­er­ing prop­erly af­ter ex­er­cise is key as it al­lows your body to heal.

ca­reers and fam­i­lies are among the most sleep de­prived. Im­prove­ments in this one area can make a huge dif­fer­ence.

4. Com­pres­sion.

Com­pres­sion gar­ments help pre­vent fluid build-up in mus­cle tis­sue due to mi­cro­trauma from ex­er­cise. Com­pres­sion is par­tic­u­larly ideal for the legs since grav­ity will pool the fluid down at the an­kles, cre­at­ing a ‘dead end’, thus com­pres­sion helps pre­vent this. Sleep­ing in com­pres­sion gar­ments may help min­imise swelling overnight.

5. Hy­drother­apy.

A bath is fab­u­lous for re­cov­ery. Bathing in warm wa­ter re­lieves tired mus­cles, joints and lig­a­ments. Buoy­ancy de­creases the weight of the body and aids re­cov­ery through circulation. And it’s time­less! the An­cient Egyp­tians prac­tised hy­drother­apy around 5000 years ago. If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, bathing in the sea is also ther­a­peu­tic with salt wa­ter hav­ing many heal­ing qual­i­ties.

6. Mas­sage/phys­io­ther­apy:

Hands-on treat­ment in­clud­ing mas­sage is one of the fastest ways to re­cover. Elite ath­letes use mas­sage on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. But for the rest of us, a mas­sage weekly or fort­nightly will make a pos­i­tive impact if we are very ac­tive. Even a monthly mas­sage will make a dif­fer­ence. How­ever, if you are train­ing for a big event or try­ing hard to im­prove, you may need more. Phys­io­ther­apy is cru­cial to main­tain­ing your body, per­for­mance and ad­dress in­juries or tight­ness. How do you choose the cor­rect ther­a­pist? Make sure you are see­ing re­sults in three ses­sions or less. It means they are on track. If not, get a sec­ond opin­ion.


• Re­cov­ery is an im­por­tant part of ex­er­cise, yet many peo­ple com­pro­mise re­cov­ery due to busy lives.

• Sleep and hy­dra­tion are two key ar­eas for re­cov­ery.

• Be­ing mind­ful of what your body needs af­ter ex­er­cise will help you reach new heights.

Kusal is an ex­pe­ri­enced phys­io­ther­a­pist who con­sults via his clinic, Elite Akademy Sports Medicine. He be­lieves pas­sion­ately that phys­io­ther­apy pa­tients should see pos­i­tive re­sults in three ses­sions or less. Kusal has au­thored books in­clud­ing: Low Back Pain – 30 Days to Pain Free and 3 Minute Work­outs, cur­rently avail­able via Wilkinson Pub­lish­ing. When not con­sult­ing, Kusal is is a lec­turer, au­thor, con­sul­tant and mentor to thousands of phys­io­ther­apy stu­dents around the world.

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