I am a firm believer that recovery is essential to best performance; however, it is also the hardest to do. As athletes, we are used to being active. For some reason taking a rest or even admitting that we are tired is a sign of weakness. Feeling tired means you need rest. If you are fatigued or exhausted, you definitely need to recover. There are many ways to recover. This article will review some of the best recovery methods and future articles will examine each method in further detail.
During recovery, there are three main functions that need to take place for best performance: 1) the body rebuilds and repairs itself, adapting to training, 2) the body replaces fluids and electrolytes lost from sweating, and 3) the body’s muscle and liver glycogen stores are refilled. The athlete who can recover fastest in between training sessions and races will make big gains.
Sport science recommends one to two days of rest per week and at the end of the competition season a full week of rest. Crazy huh? “One to two days is already a challenge. The only time I take a whole week off of training is if I’m sick.” Sound familiar? Ok so here is what you can do. Dial in your hydration and nutrition with antioxidant rich, anti-inflammatory drinks and foods and initiate one or more of the recovery methods described below.
The body is made up of about 60% water and the brain is about 70% water. Research shows that as little as a 2% loss in body fluids, aka water, will decrease performance in high intensity exercise and endurance exercise (Armstrong et al. 1985; Nielsen et al. 1982). After training or racing, SUP athletes range from a state of moderate to extreme dehydration. It is important to make a conscious effort to rehydrate because athletes may not even feel thirst due to the stress of exercise and heat.
It is also important to replace energy stores. The latest research shows that a combination of carbohydrates (carbs) and protein consumed ASAP and up to 30 minutes after training or competing will help the body recover faster. Choose a sport nutrition drink or a smoothie for best results, but remember to read the nutrition labels. The optimum formula is a carbs to protein ratio of 4:1. There is lots of great research on recovery hydration. The next article will get into hydration specifics with a sport nutrition drink guide and some super yum smoothie recipes.
Along with keeping the body well hydrated, make it a priority to fuel and nourish your body to rebuild, repair, and recharge. I encourage foods in their most natural form, plant based. Whenever possible balance your meals and snacks with nutrient dense carbs, lean protein, and healthy fat. Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods enhance overall health and performance. Many vegetables and fruits are naturally high in antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory like blueberries, red kidney beans, goji berries, cranberries, artichokes, pineapple, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric. The recovery nutrition article will review natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food superstars and give easy, quick, and tasty recipes.
Types of recovery
As you hydrate and nourish yourself remember to mix up your days with active and passive recovery. Active recovery is where you do some form of activity with little to no intensity. Awesome examples include taking a restorative yoga class, stretching, foam rolling, going for a walk, or going on an easy bike ride. Ideally your active recovery does not tax any of the muscle groups you use in paddling. An added boost to your active recovery would be movements, poses, or stretches that counter the repetitive movements done in paddling. These include all of the internal rotation with the arms and forward flexion at the hips and lower back (the yoga article will include specific poses for this).
Passive recovery is when you do nothing. Yes nothing. Excellent examples include sleeping in late, taking a nap, taking a bath, relaxing in the hot tub, doing yoga nidra (nidra is Sanskrit for sleep and the yoga article will talk more about this), listening to brainwave entrainment, getting a massage, going for acupuncture or chiropractic treatment.
Stay tuned for the next Best Performance article on hydration. I will explain the science of hydration for SUP, discuss drink palatability (ideal temperature and flavors), the replacement of electrolytes, fluid volume and hydrating patterns for optimal rehydration, and the effects of caffeine and alcohol on hydration and overall performance. Remember I created this column for you. Reach out with any questions.