By: Unnu Shuka
If you’ve registered for the Longhorn Run, you know that training season is upon us (Haven’t signed up yet? No worries, check it out here). As important as training is, however, recovery is essential to any workout/training regimen. Check out what Chrystina Wyatt, the director of the Fit/Well Program at UT RecSports, has to say about the importance of recovery.
Why do we cool down after workouts, and what's the best way to do so?
The purpose of a cool-down after workouts is to allow your heart rate, breathing rate and oxygen consumption to gradually decrease to resting levels. A proper cool-down prevents blood pooling, DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), and decreases your risk of injury. If you are doing cardiorespiratory training (i.e. Running, jogging, etc.), it is important to begin your cool-down with activities that can gradually decrease your heart (I.e. walking) before sitting or beginning to stretch. A good cool-down for cardio training includes post-cardio movements and static stretching (holding stretches for 15-60 seconds) for the large muscle groups. Muscle groups runners should try to stretch after every run include quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, calves, and the core muscles.
Why is recovery important (especially from a training perspective)?
Recovery time is an important part of training because it allows your musculoskeletal system time to repair and rebuild from the stress of vigorous activity. Overtraining can occur when you don’t allow the body sufficient time to recover. Symptoms of overtraining include (but are not limited to) fatigue, stress-related injuries, prolonged muscle or joint soreness, and decrease in performance.
You can prevent overtraining by cross-training and planning rest days in your training regimen. Cross-training, varying your training activities, can include taking a group exercise class or sprint workout instead of long distance running 5 days a week. You want to be specific and purposeful if you are training for a 5K or 10K (i.e. running workouts), but incorporating cross-training can help decrease your risk of injury or overtraining and can help improve your overall performance. On rest days, days in which you give your body time to recover, you can incorporate flexibility training or take a Yoga class. Flexibility training impacts joint mobility, muscles suppleness and flexibility, and reduces muscle tension. Stretching regularly overtime can improve your posture, enhance coordination and help limber your body, making movement easier.
What is foam rolling?
Foam rolling is another great technique to reduce your risk of injury and improve flexibility and performance. Foam rolling incorporates Self-Myofascial Release(SMR) techniques that can help release tight muscles, fascial adhesions, and improve blood flow. You can foam roll before and after workouts to improve your movement during the workout and to aid in recovery after.
What are your favorite ways to recover after a good run/workout?
After a run, I would begin walking briskly and gradually decreasing my pace so my heart can decrease safely. Then, I would perform foam rolling techniques for my quadriceps, hamstrings, IT Band, peroneals, Tibialis anterior, calves, and feet. Finally, I would end with static stretching for the muscles I worked during my run and some upper body stretching for a full body flexibility segment.
Favorite post-workout snack?
I like to refuel and rehydrate with water, bananas and carrots!