Muscle Recovery: The Most Important Component in Any Fitness Routine
Health + Wellness

Muscle Recovery: The Most Important Component in Any Fitness Routine

Muscle Recovery: The Most Important Component in Any Fitness Routine

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Muscle Recovery: The Most Important Component in Any Fitness Routine

Do you like pumping iron till your veins start popping? Or are you a cardio champ that is training for your next ironman? Whatever your fitness mantra might be, you need to prioritize muscle and body recovery. The 3 rudimentary pillars of any fitness routine are exercise, nutrition, and muscle recovery. Recovery, arguably, is the most important of the three. 

Why Is Muscle Recovery So Important? 

When you stress your muscles through exercise, you damage them. Damaged muscles send 2 distinct signals. One is for recovery and the other for adaptation. Recovery is the healing component where your body repairs the muscle damage that has been caused. 

Adaptation is the component that makes the damaged area more resistant to future damage. The muscle adaption process is akin to the adaption process of any other part of the body. For example, if a bone breaks, the body repairs the bone in such a way that it is harder to break the bone in the same spot again. 

These two signals are separate. However, it is important to remember this. The body will always prioritize recovery before adaptation. In other words, no recovery equals no muscle growth. So whether you are trying to add another 50 pounds to your bench press or just aiming for faster muscle performance, recovery from exercise needs to be your topmost priority. 

How to Boost Muscle Recovery?

The road to muscle recovery starts with a dedicated rest day. If you engage in moderate or high-intensity training, you must be sure to have at least 2 to 3 rest days in your training week. In no particular order, here 3 things that you can do on your rest days: 

Massage

In terms of muscle development, massage has several benefits. That includes reducing delayed onset muscle soreness(DOMS) and increasing flexibility. A massage session does it by diminishing muscle contractions and spasms. 

It also helps release any kind of nerve compressions that might have occurred due to exercise. Moreover, a massage helps open up the neural pathways. This lets your system deliver essential amino acids and process brain signals more efficiently. 

If your schedule is very tight or you do not have access to a certified therapist, the next best thing is a massage chair. There is a nice guide at wondermassagechairs.com that gets into more detail on this aspect. 

Modern massage chairs have a variety of features that can be customized to address your pain points. They help with inducing sleep and alleviating pain, stress, and anxiety. All of which are necessary for superior athletic performance. 

Sleep

Did you know that some professional athletes sleep over 10 hours per night? The deep sleep stage of sleep i.e. the non-REM stage is when the human growth hormone or HGH is released. This hormone is responsible for the muscle growth that occurs after a stressor is put on the muscle. 

A study by Universidade Federal de São Paulo found that sleep deprivation has a 2 fold negative hormonal effect. It reduces the production of HGH and increases the amount of cortisol in the system. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress. Both of these factors significantly affect muscle development. 

Ice Baths 

Ice baths are especially beneficial for endurance athletes. There are 3 main ways in which ice baths help endurance athletes. The compression from the cold water constricts your veins. This helps in flushing out lactic acid. Lactic acid is the waste product that causes the burning sensation in your muscles after you have worked it. 

Second, the cold temperature reduces metabolism and shifts the lactic acid, thus reducing muscle breakdown post-workout. And finally, once you are out of the ice bath the body begins to warm up quickly. This increases blood circulation, which delivers essential nutrients and relaxes the muscle. 

The Ohio State University asks anyone taking an ice bath to keep 2 important things in mind. Keep the water temperature between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit. And keep the body immersion anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes. However, if you are dealing with any kind of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or neuropathy, please avoid ice baths altogether. 

Ice baths may seem like a big step and may not be accessible to everyone. It might also seem like something you might want to reserve for a time when you are competing. If you decide to leave out ice baths, ensure that you get good sleep and a thorough massage. 

There will be times when you need to compromise on sleep and massages. Like when you are a new parent or have a sudden deadline to meet at the office. If, however, this becomes a long-term practice, it will certainly hold you back from optimum athletic performance. 

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