4 of the Top Direct Benefits of Recovery

We’ve all been there. You’re starting your workout and your quads are flat out hurting. It’s that “cant-walk” fatigue from yesterday’s workout. A slight forward lean, stiffness in the low back – perhaps even tight calf muscles have you running slightly “off.” Proper recovery and wellness are essential to maintaining peak performance, staying healthy and reducing the potential for injury. In fact, to get the most out of your workout it is necessary to add recovery to your routine. 

Recovery will be different for different people. Each runner has their own formula, that unique mix of training, recovery, assessment and educational services that leads them to crush their performance goals. While some runners may focus on passive recovery like maintaining a better sleep schedule or getting smarter about their diet and nutrition, others use active recovery methods like whole body cryotherapy, compression sleeves and other recovery elements. Regardless, each runner should strive for structured, consistent and holistic recovery. 

Importance of Post-Workout Recovery

Your post-workout recovery is just as important as your workout. Runners of all strides can benefit from simple recovery. Recovery helps:

  • Maintain Peak Performance: Reducing inflammation, reducing muscle fatigue and walking into each workout with endless stores of glycogen (the primary fuel for your muscles during exercise) means that each and every workout you can give it your best.
  • Stay Healthy: Recovery helps make durable athletes and improve overall well-being. When you properly recover you give your body the elements it needs to recuperate on a short and long term basis.
  • Reduce the Potential for Injury: Countless runners are plagued by stress fractures, runner’s knee, shin splints, and more. Routine recovery can help prevent these common problems. 

In order to ensure that you can run your fastest and perform at your best, you must train at your best, but you must also value and prioritize your recovery. Here are four of the top direct benefits of recovery. 

1. Reduce Inflammation and Fatigue

Stiff muscles after a run? Tense after a Crossfit WOD? Wake up in the morning and feel like you were hit by a brick wall? This is inflammation – and it comes in many forms. Runners of all strides must consider two forms of inflammation – muscle and joint. 

Muscle inflammation can cause sore and aching muscles, restricting your range of motion when you are running or working out. Running is repetitive and can put pressure on the joints. Joint inflammation can cause pain while exercising and may also lead to sore knees, hips and ankles which could lead to further injury. In order to combat this soreness, many athletes use compression sleeves, cold water soaking tubs or even cryotherapy. Whole body cryotherapy is like using ice-packs or icing down after a workout but with more consistency and well-rounded benefits delivered to your entire body. Research on whole body cryotherapy has been shown to reduce muscle inflammation by up to 40%. This reduction in inflammation will help you become a more durable runner and stay injury-free.

2. Improved Circulation and Blood Pressure

Circulation and blood flow carry essential nutrients to working muscle tissue which can improve your performance during a workout and help you recover faster after a challenging training session. Improved circulation, especially within a 48-hour window of exercise, can help better manage post-workout fatigue and soreness. This improvement in circulation will help you alleviate that annoying pain you feel the day after a hard workout.

Athletes use a variety of recovery techniques and tools to improve their circulation after workouts like compression sleeves and full spectrum infrared saunas. Unlike your parent’s old-school sauna which only heats the air, and therefore only the surface of the skin, full spectrum infrared saunas penetrate human tissue, muscle cells and can raise the core body temperature – resulting in lower blood pressure and improved circulation. Additionally, compression sleeves use dynamic pressure to move fluids through your arms and legs and improve circulation. These sleeves are commonly seen on professional athletes and Olympians before and after some workouts. 

3. Improved Flexibility and Mobility

Flexibility and mobility help keep muscles and joints healthy by allowing a full range of motion. The first thing that comes to mind for most people for flexibility is the one-minute static stretch routine they perform at the end of each long run. However, it’s not that simple. Active recovery elements like foam rolling and stretching classes and sports massage therapy will help with tissue repair,  decrease fascial restrictions and to improve your dynamic mobility. Focusing on improved flexibility and mobility will help athletes stay healthy and reduce the potential for injury. 

4. Improved Mental Health

Running involves mental toughness and grit. Sometimes, mindset is the only thing holding you back from pushing through your first 5K or your next training plateau. Certain recovery elements can help aid in reducing stress which will help in training, overall well-being and mental health. In fact, yoga for runners classes can create a sense of calmness and concentration to allow for both a physical and mental recuperation. Additionally some recovery elements, like whole body cryotherapy, improve mental health by helping release endorphins.

Recovery Starts at FRC

Whether you are at home or at the facility, listen to what your body is telling you and learn how much recovery you need to be adding into your formula. Our goal has always been to inspire the runner in everyone and help them find their formula. In order to keep you happy and strong, FRC will always bring you the best in high performance recovery. So if you want to maintain peak performance, stay healthy and reduce the potential for injury, add in some recovery to your workout at FRC.