The moment you finish a workout you should be preparing for your next one. If you do not properly recover from your previous workout, then the quality of the next one will suffer and for time-strapped athletes every minute of your workout should count. So how can you recover to the fullest? Read on….
Obviously a key (and some would argue the most important) component to swimming recovery is nutrition. Athletes who neglect proper post-exercise nutrition are breaking down their muscles, stressing their system, and acidifying their bodies without giving their bodies the nutrients to bring their bodies back to homeostasis. Nutrition for recovery is such a large subject though that it is hard to cover in one post so, I am just going to focus on non-food related ways that you can bounce back strong from any workout and hit the next one with just as much energy.
- Amino Acids: While technically “nutrition,” taking in essential amino acids in within 30 min of your workout will help you recover and repair muscles. An easy way to do this is is through supplements. There are many on the market that you can take through a shake or bar, however sometimes I do not want to eat right after a workout. Consequently, I am particularly fond of transdermal approaches like Enduropacks which is an amino patch that you slap on right after you finish showering. Its is better and more quickly absorbed by the body than through oral means.
- Massage and muscular stimulation: Since many of us cannot afford to have our own personal masseuse ready to work out all our kinks and knots after each workout, I rely on an extrostimulation unit. After my workout, I apply the pads to typically tight muscles like hamstrings, IT band, glutes, and upper back (after swim sessions). Not only does it feel amazing but increases blood flow to specific areas, speeding recovery. Pair this with an ice pack and you get a 1-2 punch to knock out soreness.
- Foam roll: In addition to electrostimulation, I also like to work my muscles through my foam roller. 20 minutes on my Rumble Roller and my legs are fairly beat up but loose, so I like to do this at night before I go to bed so that I wake up feeling limber and ready for my morning session.
- Magnesium and Arnica gel: If I am really sore, I like using a magnesium cream and arnica. Like Epsom salts, both sooth muscles but do not require you to take a bath right after each workout.
- Compression and Ice: It is tough for working women and men to recover from a workout properly since they usually workout in the morning, head straight to work and spend the next 8 hours or so on their feet or sitting staring at a computer screen which can be just as detrimental to recovery. As a teacher, I am on my feet and walking around my classroom all the time, so my feet tend to swell and my muscles tighten unless I wear my compression tights which my business slacks conveniently conceal. I personally like 110% (N.B: I have no affiliation with this company) because I can slide ice packs into them and then take them out before class. Please note that neither ice nor compression has been scientifically backed. For every study you find that shows it helps, you can find many other that show the opposite, so experiment for yourself and see if it works for you.
- Napping: Napping is hard to do for working folks but even a 20 minute lunchtime snooze can do wonders to help recovery at least mentally. Breaking up the day in such a way helps recharge my mental battery and boost my motivation for my afternoon workouts.