You’ve left it all out on the field—or the court, the pool, or the track. Your body is spent and exhausted, but you don’t have unlimited time to rest.
Training is important for success but to train and perform effectively you need your body to recover! If athletes recover quickly they can train and perform better.
Quick recovery is key. Your body needs to rebound while also rebuilding strength for optimal athletic performance.
There are a lot of options out there for athletic recovery, but here are five that will meet those goals and have you feeling like a champion.
Sleep is vital for resetting your body and helping you feel energized under normal circumstances. The same is true for athletes.
When you sleep, your body releases human growth hormones. This is necessary for muscles—which sustain small tears during workouts—to rebuild and repair themselves.
Plus, when you get enough sleep, you wake up feeling energized. This is helpful if you feel depleted after intense physical activity.
Multiple studies have shown that quality sleep enhances recovery as well as athletic performance across a wide range of sports. The benefits include improved reaction times, accuracy, faster sprint times, higher alertness, lower fatigue, and greater mental clarity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults between ages 18 and 60 to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
If you have trouble sleeping, shut off all electronics an hour before bedtime. Block out as much light from your bedroom as possible and develop a soothing routine. Good examples include drawing a warm bath or reading a book,.
2. IV Therapy
Need an all-star, post-sports regimen to get you back up to speed as fast as possible?
IV therapy for recovery may be just what you’re looking for.
Intense physical activity, especially endurance events or exercise in hot weather, creates a loss of bodily fluids. Once an athlete loses more than 2 percent of their body weight from lost fluids, they’re at risk of excessive dehydration, particularly if they haven’t adequately prehydrated.
Symptoms of severe dehydration include mental fogginess, elevated breathing rate, and even shock, so it’s important to hydrate after heavy-duty workouts.
With an IV treatment, fluids replenish your body post-workout with vitamins and electrolytes you lost through heavy sweating. IVs also help reduce muscle cramps and inflammation to ease any aches and pains.
There are several types of IVs that work for rapid recovery. NAD+ is a substance naturally produced by the body to provide cellular energy, and an NAD+ IV helps elevate those natural levels, so you feel energized.
A Myers’ Cocktail is another popular choice for combating fatigue while increasing energy. Amino acid IV therapy can also help athletes looking to enhance their stamina, endurance, and muscle repair.
Look for mobile IV companies that come to you for convenient service. Competitive athletes should confirm with their sport’s organizing body that IV therapy is allowed under their rules.
A cold dip is beneficial for your recovery, too. Cold-water immersion is popular among pro athletes. You’ve probably heard of players taking ice baths in the locker room after a game or using cryotherapy chambers for recovery.
It’s believed that cold water alleviates pain while reducing inflammation and muscle soreness. One analysis found that a cold-water bath, such as the kind used in cryotherapy, decreased delayed onset muscle soreness.
DOMS is a common problem that hampers athletic recovery, especially when compared to just resting during the recovery period. Another study found that participants who underwent hydrotherapy after a spinning session experienced less fatigue and improved cardiovascular recovery.
And you don’t necessarily need icy water—just cold water can work, too. After immersing yourself in water for about 10 to 15 minutes, you may want to warm up the body again after a little while with a quick hot shower.
4. Refuel with Food
A healthy meal will help you recharge as it provides another way to give your body the nutrients it needs to recover. This isn’t the time to grab fast food or a meal heavy on processed foods, though.
Instead, focus on whole foods with lean proteins, healthy carbs, and good-for-you fats. In a pinch, try a high-quality protein shake that can help boost muscle recovery. The ideal time to eat is about an hour after you finish playing or working out.
The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends a recovery eating plan that starts with aligning the calories you’ll consume post-workout with what you need according to your training plan. If you don’t get enough calories to produce the energy you need, you’ll be stuck in an imbalance called “low energy availability.”
This deficit can wreak havoc on your endocrine and immune system, among other issues. It can also raise the risk of nutritional deficits that can also impact athletic performance.
To aid muscle repair, eat a post-workout meal balanced in carbs, protein, and healthy fats, with a healthy supply of micronutrient vitamins and minerals.
There is some debate about the physical benefits of massage for athletic recovery. Some think it helps with muscle pain and soreness while promoting flexibility and DOMS, but limited studies have not seen evidence of those results.
Where massage may hold real promise for athletes is in the psychological benefits.
Massage can ease stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, elevate mood, and encourage an overall state of relaxation. As many athletes know, the mental game can be just as important as their physical game.
Plus, a massage simply feels terrific. You may want to find a massage therapist or physical therapist trained in deep tissue or sports massage techniques, and make sure your practitioner is aware of any injuries or sensitive areas.
You need to take care of your body if you want to perform at your best. What you do off the field is just as important as what you do on it. It may help to talk with a trainer, to develop a recovery plan that suits your sport, your overall health, and your lifestyle. Find what’s right for you, and the faster you recover, the faster you’re back to the sport you love.