Let’s face it: while so many of us runners thrill to have a training schedule and an upcoming race for which to prepare, pushing ourselves to new limits and discovering the challenges our bodies are able to endure, the area that so many of us fail to properly attend to is that of recovery. While it’s exciting to see ourselves progress and grow and hit new personal records, ensuring that our bodies have the adequate recovery time and available resources is an important component that we often neglect or allow to fall to the wayside.
The reality is that injuries are common, and although there are no cure-alls to avoid them altogether, there are things we can do to prevent ourselves from being so susceptible to them. Implementing regular recovery methods, whether you’re a runner or engage in other training sessions or types of physical activity, is critical to optimal performance and overall well-being and health. To increase productivity while attending to your body, try considering the following methods to help recover fully from rigorous cardio sessions.
Make sure to warm down properly
To reduce the chances of injury and keep muscles from becoming overly tight, warming down after a hard workout is essential. It might seem easier to skip the stretching, especially on days when pressed for time, but tight muscles can lead to tears or further complications if left unattended and cause dramatic set-backs.
You should always engage in a cool down stretching session to release the tension built up from your run or training. Think of it as some much-needed R&R for your muscles after they’ve been working hard; they deserve some rest and attention to receive the blood necessary to recover properly.
Hydrating correctly after a long run is as important as eating a balanced diet. When you expend a lot of water from a tough run, you need to replenish the water immediately to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can be a serious issue for long-distance runners and has many detrimental effects, including muscle cramping, nausea, dizziness and overall difficulty functioning. To fend this off and keep your muscles healthy and happy, be sure to take in sufficient fluids before, during and after your run. (Distance runners: be sure to check alternative methods of hydration and fueling as well, including performance & electrolyte drinks or salt pills.)
Look for alternative methods to help aid recovery
For those who want more than just a little post-run yoga-mat stretch sesh in their living rooms, there are plenty of outside options to assist with muscle recovery as well. Saunas fall into this category and are renowned for helping with recovery.
Very popular in gyms and even homes nowadays, the elevated heat levels in saunas help loosen muscles after running and promote good circulation of the white blood cells to fatigued muscles. They also help reduce the chances of muscle soreness as saunas increase blood flow to the skeletal muscles, keeping muscles fueled with glucose, esterified fatty acids, and oxygen while removing byproducts of the metabolic process such as lactic acid. The body then has the capabilities to deliver the right nutrients to the muscles in need, which means it doesn’t have to depend on depleted glycogen stores. Additionally, saunas help reduce stress as they are seen as great tools for relaxation and in some cases, even socialization! The standard 3 person infrared saunas that are sold to homeowners are “beautifully handcrafted” and the perfect “comfortable retreat” for families to relax in at home and forget about the stresses of work or a challenging run. Hey, the couple that runs together deserves to de-stress and recover together as well, right?
Great places in New York to go to aid your recovery
If you live in a large city, chances are that you have a plethora of options at your disposal to help you find the right means of recovery for you. Gyms and spas nowadays have in-house sports physicians who will offer professional advice on how to best recover from physical activity. Alternatively, there are many establishments that specialize in sports massages such as deep tissue therapy that will aid runners in their recovery processes. If you live in New York City and want to try out a spa that has steam and sauna rooms or specializes in heat therapy, this list by Foursquare might come in handy in your pursuit of the best spa in NYC.
This post was written in conjunction with Lara Matthews as part of a wellness campaign.
How do you recover from runs or training sessions?