Friday, December 18, 2009

Assuming the recovery position

In fitness and strength training, recovery is often overlooked. Yet it is very necessary to prevent acute injuries as well as overuse injuries, in addition to improving performance and reducing soreness. That might sound like it's too good to be true. But not when you consider how the muscle and hormonal systems of the body operate.

Simply put muscle is built when we rest AFTER the stress of a workout is applied. Muscles do not improve function during the weight training. Weight training breaks the muscle down. When we rest and feed the muscle is when it will rebuild stronger.

Here is a short synopsis of what happens following a strength workout (which by the way is VERY NECESSARY to lose fat!).
  1. Muscle has high electrical stimulation and continues to produce force and increase tension in muscles after the workout
  2. Hormones are released to open muscle fiber cells and increase fuel uptake into cells
  3. Metabolism is elevated as a result of increased adrenaline
Now this isn't all that happens, but it is a very short compact version. Now here is what happens if we were to do nothing following a strength workout.
  1. Muscle shortens and remains tight
  2. Muscle cells have nothing to be filled with due to carbohydrate depletion, as a result they remain in a broken down, or catabolic, state
  3. Metabolism due to decrease in carbohydrate stores, protein breakdown increases to provide necessary energy for Activities of Daily Living (ADL's)
  4. Body restricts fat usage due to a "starvation" mode. Read that again. Your body will HOLD ONTO FAT. Click on the link for research on "starvation mode"
  5. If muscle is not adequately recovered, performance will suffer, whether its is in sports, fitness or ADL's.
So how do we recover properly to make sure we are building muscle, providing sufficient energy for muscle building and metabolism increases?
  1. Drink or eat a good mix of carbohydrates and protein (2:1-4:1 ratio) within 45 minutes of finishing resistance training. This is the prime time to get protein and carbohydrates into your muscles to rebuild and preserve muscle. This also will keep your metabolism elevated, ensuring that your body burns fat and feeds the muscle. Chocolate milk has been shown to be an excellent recovery drink!
  2. Use a foam roller to massage muscles. This increases blood flow which removes metabolic waste and brings fresh oxygen and nutrients to the muscle. It also helps to maintain the proper length of muscle by releasing "knots" in the muscle. You know the knots you get in your shoulders? Well those occur in all muscle.
  3. Go through basic body weight range of motion exercises/stretches to continue oxygen flow and allow the muscle to be used lightly.
  4. Drink lots of water (at least 64 oz per day).
By following this protocol your performance will improve, flexibility will increase and you'll feel better than ever! For more information on nutrition contact Diane Campbell.

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