5 Tips For Sports Recovery You Need To Know
Explore the ways you can help your body recover, naturally.
What is sports recovery and why is it important?
Sports recovery is in many ways exactly what it sounds like: recovery from sports, movement, activity or exercise. However you personally define movement, one thing is the same across all mediums: recovery is as equally an important part of activity as is the activity itself.
Simply put, sports recovery is the time we invest in allowing our body to begin healing and recovering from any damage sustained during training or competition. It’s prudent to remember that even safe, beneficial movement causes damage to our muscle tissue, as it breaks down our muscles in order to help them grow. This is called muscle hypertrophy, and it is what allows our muscles to build over time when repeated exposure occurs to higher resistance or weight.
Tempting as it may be to skip the recovery period altogether, science shows that we’re doing ourselves a disservice in the gym or on the track when we don’t make time for recovery, including stalling or even reversing our progress. We’re sharing five of our favorite tips for sports recovery that you need to know to help your body and mind feel their best.
Sports recovery tip #1: Drink enough water (hint: it’s more than you think!)
It sounds simple enough, but reality is that many of us don’t actually know the optimal amount of water we should be taking in each day, even if we are or aren’t moving our bodies. In our experience, it’s easy to overestimate the amount of water we’re drinking in a day, unless we are intentional about meeting our daily requirements. Water helps to flush toxins from the body, to keep our organs functioning optimally and can even help prevent bad breath. Here are some easy tips to help keep you hydrated throughout the day:
- Get a reusable water bottle that makes sense for your personal needs. Some people prefer a bottle with a handle, or one that comes with a reusable straw, or one that comes in hot pink so it never gets misplaced. We are unique individuals with specific preferences, and if we choose a bottle that we like and enjoy for its certain convenient features, we are more likely to keep the water flowing throughout the day.
- Become familiar with the size of your water vessel. This is one of the easiest ways for us to overestimate our water consumption each day; we ‘guess-timate’ the size at say, 2o ounces, only to find out later it’s actually double walled and only holds 12 ounces of liquid. Over the course of the day, this misstep can lead to you taking in significantly less water than you intend to, and can throw you off your hydration game.
- Knowing that water is absolutely essential to good health, it is recommended that we take in on average between 2-3 litres of water each day. This would of course need to be adjusted based on factors such as body weight and level of activity, but a golden rule would be to stay at a minimum of 2 litres per day.
Sports recovery tip #2: Stretch. And then stretch again.
Stretching is easily one of the most beneficial ways in which we can help our bodies recover after a workout, yet it is the one we tend to skip the most often. Many times we are squeezing in exercise before or after work, or before the kids get home from school or before we have to make dinner… you get the idea. It’s easy to de-prioritize stretching because we ‘feel fine’ in the moment, but once the adrenaline of a tough workout wears off, or after you’ve sat down at your computer for a few hours, you may find yourself feeling stiff as a board the next time you try to take a few steps. Taking even a few intentional moments to stretch out your muscles can have incredible benefits like:
- Increasing your overall flexibility and limberness
- Improving your posture by reducing tightness
- Decreasing muscle stiffness and improving range of motion
- Helping prevent injury the next time you’re in the gym
- Providing a moment of mindfulness to be fully present with your body
Sports recovery tip #3: It’s not a race! Go at your own pace.
You’ve heard the old saying, “what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander”, and this expression absolutely rings true when it comes to sports recovery. Each of our bodies and our capabilities are different, thus requiring us to take unique, tailored approaches to recovery. The best thing you can do is to not compare yourself to anyone else; your workout buddy might only require one day off between heavy lifting, while your body is telling you it feels best after two days. For someone else, a quick 10 minute stretch post-workout is sufficient, but your ideal stretch time is 30 minutes. Don’t let anyone else’s progress or routine hinder yours; you never know, they may not be taking proper care of their body, after all.
Sports recovery tip #4: Seek the advice of a professional.
Speaking of doing what’s right for our bodies, when it comes to sports recovery this is sometimes best left to the professionals. All sorts of professions are dedicated in some part to sports recovery, be it physiotherapists, osteopaths, massage therapists or acupuncturists. There are countless professions that are dedicated to the ways in which our bodies best heal and recover, and sometimes the smartest thing we can do is to seek their professional opinion.
Professional trainers and practitioners are able to tailor a unique program for each of us, based on our individual needs, wants and goals. An objective person is often able to point out our blindspots or blocks and help us to move past them in healthy and productive ways. Here’s a tip: many gyms offer a complimentary session with a personal trainer if you’re looking for sound advice when it comes to recovery.
Sports recovery tip #5: Use plant-based products to support your recovery.
Finally, we want to offer some of the natural, plant-based products that we find effective when it comes to managing aches and pains as part of your sports recovery routine. These are products that are free of any synthetic chemicals or artificial fragrances, and that have been blended based on the research of individual essential oils and how they can impact symptoms like soreness or tension in our bodies.
Pain Release roll-on: this blend of warming ingredients like rosemary, marjoram and roman chamomile was formulated to help treat daily aches and pains. Our favorite way to use it? Roll over any areas of the body that feel tight or tense, like your feet and ankles after a long day, or your shoulders and back of the neck if you’re feeling tight or stiff.
Muscle Melt body butter: smooth this rich and luxurious body butter on anytime you want to rehydrate and nourish the skin, while also helping to comfort and soothe the muscles and tissues. Blended with sweet birch, lavender and eucalyptus, this supple and softening moisturizer will leave you feeling incredible.
Extra Strength roll-on: made extra strong and extra large, this is our most powerful roll-on for muscle aches and soreness. The key ingredients, sweet birch and peppermint, offer a warming and cooling sensation that deeply penetrates the skin to help you feel eased and relieved. Roll over areas of the body like arms, legs and back when you need an extra dose of relief.
Stress Release bath salt soak: we know that pain can be stressful to the body, which is why we love a long, hot soak with these balancing and comforting salts formulated with calming lavender, orange and geranium. Fill the tub, add 2-5 tablespoons of bath salts and then soak for 30 minutes to experience optimal results.
Proper sports recovery will let you move your body optimally.
Sports recovery is important because not only does it allow your body to receive the proper rest and repair that it needs between vigorous or strenuous workouts, it also allows for the proper psychological recovery we need to keep ourselves feeling sharp and focused the next time we hit the gym, the water, the trails, or wherever our bodies want to go.