Tips for Optimal Recovery

The faster, more efficiently you can recover – the stronger your body will be. That’s because during recovery, your body repairs the ‘damage’ you’ve done. Recovery is when you reap the benefits of your training.

Here are 5 ways to speed up your recovery.


1. Nutrition –protein and carbohydrates

The primary fuel source for most swimmers during an event is glycogen, or more commonly known as carbohydrate. Over time, as glycogen is used, it must be replaced to avoid depletion. Should glycogen stores become low or depleted, the body uses its last-resort fuel source – protein. This usually comes in the form of muscle protein, so it’s easy to see how long-term failure to replenish glycogen can lead to tissue breakdown. Combined with the tissue breakdown that is a normal result of hard exercise – it’s not hard to see why poor nutritional recovery can lead to symptoms like;
• complaints of ‘lead legs’ and/or ‘can’t keep up’
• feelings of fatigue
• longer post-race heart rate recovery

Effective nutritional recovery maintains energy and limits tissue breakdown – both carbohydrate and protein are essential to this. One of the key factors to keep in mind is that the ‘window of opportunity’ for maximising glycogen repletion starts to close as soon as exercise stops and lasts for about two hours so it’s important to eat a substantial carbohydrate snack with some protein immediately after the race or within 45 min of finishing. Once that window closes, your body becomes very inefficient at replenishing those energy stores. Remember also to include liquids to replenish lost fluids.


2. Get plenty of sleep

The majority of the body’s muscle rebuilding occurs while the body is at rest. Therefore, in order to benefit the most from your training and to perform optimally, it is important to get sufficient sleep. Getting too little sleep can hinder recovery from exercise by impairing glucose metabolism, increasing cortisol levels (causing decreased tissue repair and growth), and compromising immune function. Not only is protein breakdown reduced during sleep, growth hormone is released during this time. Getting enough sleep also helps to balance your emotions during the day and just makes you feel better. There is no set duration of sleep that every athlete should get. Everyone is different – or some it might be 7 hours and others 9 hours. This should be correlated to how you feel during.


3. Stretching

Stretching plays an important role in the recovery process and in preparing for the next training session or race. Stretching increases blood flow to muscles which stimulates the passage of certain nutrients into muscles; accelerates protein synthesis in cells, and inhibits protein breakdown. These processes help the muscle repair itself and improve the body’s ability to recover in time for subsequent training or races. Stretching as part of recovery can also reduce the chance of injury and enhance stroke technique during subsequent swims. Its effects on increasing flexibility and range of motion allow the arms and legs to move freely and unencumbered.


4. Massage and Recovery

Massage stimulates blood circulation. Increasing circulation can help cleanse the tissue of metabolic wastes and reduce the delayed onset of muscle soreness. By alleviating muscle discomfort and spasm, massage during recovery may also improve training and racing performances that have been compromised by strength, endurance, flexibility and/or technique limitations associated with pain.


5. Nutritional supplements

Various vitamins and minerals can help with increased muscle demand and recovery including Magnesium, glutamine, carnitine, Taurine, B vitamins, Vitamin C, Calcium, sodium, potassium, and malic acid just to a few. Many of these nutrients are involved in the Krebs cycle, playing an essential role in the generation of mitochondrial ATP (energy production of the cells).

Magnesium in particular is a common deficiency amongst athletes and is vital for proper muscle function. Not only does Magnesium help with optimal function as well as muscle recovery – there are many other common conditions it can help with too including;

• Muscle cramping and twitching
• Insomnia
• Stress & anxiety
• Headaches/migraines
• Lethargy and irritability
• Osteoporosis
• Asthma

At Good Health we recognise the importance of magnesium and have several magnesium supplements to suit everyone.

Good Health Opti-Mag Powder – makes a refreshing tasting drink that contains a high dose of oxide-free Magnesium which is more easily absorbed by the body so it works faster and more effectively. It also contains other important nutrients including carnitine, glutamine, vitamins and minerals which are vital for optimal muscle function and energy in the body – all the essential ingredients needed to support relaxation and recovery for tense, tight muscles. Opti Mag Powder is also beneficial in times of stress.

Good Health Organic Magnesium Ultra (tablet)- is a high strength formula that is better utilised in the body because it contains more easily absorbable forms of magnesium plus added vitamins. This makes it faster acting and more effective for relaxing muscle tension and tightness, soothing nervous tension and stress, and assisting in supporting sleep. Magnesium also supports physical performance during intense exercise.

Good Health Magnesium Cream – Magnesium Cream contains genuine Zechstein™ magnesium chloride, the finest and purest natural magnesium chloride in the world. Combined with organic oils, Magnesium Cream provides fast support to soothe muscles and joints.

The skin is the body’s largest organ. Magnesium applied directly to the skin is absorbed quickly into the body, bypassing the digestive process completely. The advantage is that you can target specific areas of the body, helping to soothe specific muscles and joints where magnesium is needed.