When it comes to sports for young athletes and active adults, the emphasis often is placed on practice and workouts.
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When it comes to sports for young athletes and active adults, the emphasis often is placed on practice and workouts. And rightfully so. But two things that play just as much of a role in nailing that game-winning shot or making a highlight-reel save are rest and recovery.
Workouts and games stress your body and break it down. Afterward, your body’s recovering and building back up to get stronger. There’s a number of ways you can recover, with everything from stretching, yoga, foam rolling, walking, jogging, icing, sleep (we’ll get back to this one later!) and more. Some of these have more research to back up their effectiveness than others, but they can all contribute to a good recovery when used wisely.
We make goals for a lot of what we do, and recovery isn’t any different. The main goal should be to leave you feeling more relaxed than when you started a practice, workout or game.
One general guideline to follow: The more intense your workout was, the more thoughtful your recovery should be. What’s frequently overlooked in recovery is our minds – more specifically our perceptions and beliefs. Those can have a huge impact on our stress levels, and working out is all about stressing our bodies.
If you perceive that your workouts have been tough regardless of what your heart rate or weight room numbers were, you have to decide the best way to recover. This is where beliefs factor in. If you go through the motions of a recovery routine and don’t think it’s going to do much, then it probably won’t. But if you’re engaged in recovery and believe it’s the best possible routine, it’ll be more effective as long as there’s evidence to back it up.
Arguably the most important (and awesome!) recovery method is sleep. We all need more of it.
You can use all the fancy recovery methods of the pros, but if you don’t get enough Zzzzzzzz’s it won’t mean much. Seven to eight hours is the usual recommendation, but that depends on the person. Many athletes probably need closer to nine hours depending on what point they’re in their training and what else is going on in their lives. If you just ended a relationship, had finals at school, or a big project at work, you’ll probably need more sleep to balance out the mental and emotional stress.
There are tons of recovery methods, and it’s important that you factor in how you’ve felt during recent workouts when choosing your routine. Recognize which methods you think work best for you and make sure you prioritize sleep to maximize the benefits from your workouts and recovery sessions.
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