Thursday, May 31, 2012

Recovery - Most under appreciated hero of weight loss

I am going to discuss Recovery due to fatigue and not tiredness. There are various reasons of tiredness – boredom, laziness, exhaustion (by moving around too much, heat, walking, too much thinking, standing etc.) Even excess weight can get you tired easily. If you are tired by normal walking; my principles of recovery don’t apply.  There can be countless reason for it including deficit of nutrients such as vitamins, glycogen or some other mineral. These problems can be solved with simple balanced nutrition or just taking multi vitamin every day.

Fatigue – When you work certain muscles continuously over period that your body feels sore.  Sometimes moving certain muscles feel very hard.  When you try to use your skills (working too hard for studies or at job) at higher level than it is normally used to, fatigue sets in. I am going to discuss about fatigue due to workouts.

Reason for fatigue:
As muscles work, they generate metabolic wastes, such as lactic acid. As those wastes build up in the muscles, they create a balloon effect, making the muscles swell up. While a larger muscle certainly might look cosmetically appealing, the congestion in the muscle tends to make its fascial envelope stretch taut, unable to contract more fully or relax more freely until the extra fluid is moved out.

One of the most under looked aspect of the fitness is the RECOVERY. Many people think it is essential to OVERTRAIN (Train more than body can handle), in the end would pay better dividends. However without expert supervision – most people overestimate their body ability. (Yes, slackers always under estimate and don’t require to read this post.).

When you OVERTRAIN, you are prone to injury or falling sick. It won’t happen right away. Like people who train hard for 30 days without considering recovery days – always find their workout motivation dropping and even notice drop in energy levels. The body was never given chance to RECOVER. In many case, your body digresses and not even able to achieve what it did earlier. We rationalize it as having tired day or lacking proper nutrition that leads to over eating.

Remember – You don’t build muscles in workouts. You break down your muscles during workouts. Muscles building take place while you are in recovery.

Methods of Recovery -

8 hours of sleep is generally considered optimal.  I have heard various if and else of more/ less sleep. I consider 8 hour optimum – More sleeps burns out muscles as it doesn’t get proper food for such long duration. Less than 8 hours body doesn’t get chance to build muscles.

Post –Workout Drinks:
Sports drinks (energy drinks) are generally made for this category. However most of them fool customer by adding soda and sugar only. When you sweat, you are basically losing salt and other essential minerals.

Naturally, I have found sugarcane juice to be most efficient recovery drink post workout.  Coconut water is effective but not as well as sugarcane juice. Even Lemon juice has proven to be effective when consumed along with Himalayan salt.

If you are training for endurance (training that causes lot of sweat), you might require additional products. I find Oral Rehydration by WHO the best (CHEAP TOO). It is sold in market as Electrolyte water.
If you plan to consume Protein shake, don’t use Whey protein shake for post workout recovery.  Please use Casein shake. Casein is slow protein that allows muscles to consume protein over duration of time, hence better muscle build up. Please read my earlier posts to understand why muscle building is essential for fast weight loss.
Consuming anything with High GI index is fine before / after 30 minutes of workout. You can have your beer pint here.

Pre – workout Food and Drinks
Food is extremely complicated and requires greater breakdown (hence not in this post). However I will point out few basics facts that you might be overlooking.
If you find yourself extremely hungry all day long and find yourself craving for sugar whole time, you are not consuming enough essential fats and require drinking more water.

If you are unable to focus during end of the workout, not able to add more reps, you need to consume more fast release protein (whey protein) or food that contains nitrogen and zinc. There are various supplements that provide boost to your body. I am not suggesting you to go overboard on supplements. I am just providing you knowledge that such products do exist in market.

Caffeine (Coffee is better than tea) is also very effective pre-workout tool to provide that essential energy boost.  I know various professional sportmen consume caffeine supplements to get maximum performance and not be charged with DUI. Caffeine is one of the safest bet (with almost zero side –effects) for workouts.

Additional recovery
From ancient times to modern times, massage is considered one of the most relaxing and rejuvenating experience. There are couples who are known for spending over thousands of dollar in spa. However, only deep tissue massage is effective for post workout therapy. Consider something like shiatsu which can find your deep pain spots and rejuvenate it.

Foam Roller
Self-Myofascial Release ( self-massage) has really impressed me for spotting up pain spots which I really don’t feel normally. Sometimes it can even spot up pain spots which will start hurting after couple of days. But after you use foam roller, your body feels completely pain free over time.
For more details:

Ice packs 
Ice packs have picked up big time trend in sports. Most of the professional athletes use ice to heal quickly. Many athletes are known for taking this recovery method to extreme by taking bath in ice tub. Most of the modern gyms are now equipped with chilled shower for this very purpose.

Cold/warm pack
This method has been traditionally used in India and China for healing. Hot towel and cold towel are alternated so that it can relieve both major and minor muscles quickly while not letting body thermostat be affected.  Many modern massage centers provide this therapy post massage.

Mudpack is generally used for stomach therapy. When patients suffer from any of the stomach related problems, mudpack is provided to alleviate all symptoms including constipation, acidity etc.

Yoga / Stretching
There are over 100,000 books on just this topic. I am not the person who can explain this in details. Best I can suggest is turn on YOUTUBE and check out Tara Stiles doing it in best possible way.

During workout – warm up at least for 3 minutes – 1st minute with slow movement, 2nd minute with medium pace and 3rd minute full on sprint.  After you are warmed up – do basic static stretching to open up your body. Add dynamic stretching after that. Take a sip of water and start working out. Keep breathing during your moves. After workout is over do atleast 2 minutes cooldown. I am considering this based on atleast 30 minutes workout.  Any workout below 30 minutes doesn’t require high end recovery techniques unless you working just one muscle.

Moreover, please remember it takes 48 hours for muscles to build up. Hence, don’t repeat same muscles on 2 consecutive days. If you desire abs – treat it like a regular muscles. I will write another article about abs.

I haven't worked with any of the elite sports trainers (many considered miracle workers). I don't know what other techniques they induce to train athletes to play back to back games. I know there is certain high level of theory is required.  Above mentioned methods are sufficient for amateur athletes. If I discover any more methods - I will add them to this blog.

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