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Understanding Muscle Recovery





June 30, 2021

Everyone would agree that exercising is vital to a healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete, trainer, bodybuilder, or the average gym enthusiast. No matter how you exercise, across the board the muscle recovery aspect is vital. We’ll cover some of the benefits of the recovery process.

What Is Recovery

Let's get started by defining what we mean by recovery. Recovery, as the name suggests, is a process in which our body aligns itself in response to the demands of exercise. Part of this process is restoring what is called homeostasis. Homeostasis is a state where your body reaches equilibrium, or where the levels inside your body are stable. Without proper recovery, we risk causing damage to our muscles and our chance of injury goes up the more we push our bodies. We need to be mindful of what our bodies need, and the toll we are putting them through during exercise. Additionally, having the right type of recovery is vital in maintaining physical fitness and health. 

Types of Recovery

Alright, so we’ve addressed the importance of muscle recovery, and what it means, now we’ll move on to the two main types of recovery: active and passive. 

Active recovery occurs when we are maintaining some form of exercise at a lower intensity, to allow ourselves to “cool down”. This could be jogging on a treadmill, swimming a couple of laps in a pool, or lowering the weight on a workout. This type of recovery has been found to reach homeostasis at a faster rate than passive recovery.

Passive recovery is what some people refer to as their “rest day”. It would be a day of the week set aside to refrain from physical activity to fully recover. 

With the two main types of recovery, there are many ways to assist recovery. These include massages, compression, cryotherapy, hydrotherapy, and sleep.

Massage

A 20-30 minute massage following exercise can speed up recovery. Massages are a very traditional form of recovery and can assist with soreness and overall relaxation. It is important to know that massages have a possibility of causing damage to the muscles, so there should be some caution applied to this practice. 

Compression

The belief behind compression recovery is that specific types of clothing that provide compression may help the recovery process. The purported benefits include reduced soreness following workouts and faster recovery. The main types of compression include elastic and pneumatic compression. Elastic compression is achieved through clothing that contains a type of elastic material that provides constant pressure. Pneumatic compression provides a type of pulsing pressure caused by a worn device. Pneumatic compression has been found to achieve high levels of recovery. 

Cryotherapy

This type of recovery is very popular. Cryotherapy is the process of cooling the muscles to assist recovery. However, there has not been sufficient research to back up these claims, and some researchers believe that alternating this method with heat therapy is a better alternative. With further research and exploration of this method, we’ll be able to further see any benefits or potential drawbacks. 

Hydrotherapy

This type of recovery has been found to have extensive benefits, including regulating the temperature of the body, reduction of soreness in muscles, and stabilization of heart rate. Hydrotherapy is the process of submerging the body in water in one of three variants. The first type of hydrotherapy is cold-water immersion (CWI), as the name suggests it uses primarily cold water. The second type is hot water immersion, which as you guessed uses strictly hot water. However, the third and most effective method is called contrast water therapy, which is a combination of hot and cold water.

Sleep

We all know sleep is good for you, and yet many of us aren’t getting enough of it. We get too busy with our schedules so we cut our sleep down by a few hours. However innocent that may seem in its intentions we’re just hurting our recovery process. When we consistently skip out or lose out on our much-needed resting time we collect what is referred to as sleep debt. When that consistently happens our recovery will be slowed, and we risk damaging our body. 

Recovery methods are important, and it’s good to find a mix of what works best for ourselves. That being said, it is also helpful to know what to look for in terms of overtraining.

Overtraining

Overtraining occurs when we have not given our body enough time to adjust and reach homeostasis. The risks associated with this include injury or illness. You must watch for the warning signs of overtraining, which are listed below.

  • Decreased performance over 7–10 day period

  • Increased resting heart rate and/or blood pressure

  • Reduced appetite or loss of appetite and possibly some nausea

  • Disturbed sleep patterns and inability to attain restful sleep

  • Constant muscle soreness and general irritability

  • Reduced motivation/adherence

If you find yourself experiencing some of these signs, a good tip would be to temporarily adjust your workout regime to lower intensity, changing workout type, or pausing workout until recovery. While it’s important to keep an eye on your health and the warning signs, there are also ways to prevent it from going that far. All you need to do would be to monitor some basic vitals and keep track of your ability.

Monitoring Health

One of the first things to monitor is your breathing. Oxygen levels are a key part of your overall health. It is important to be aware of your breathing and to practice breathing deeper and slower. Average breathing during exercises can accelerate, breathing more short, quick breaths which are more harmful than helpful due to the increased amount of carbon dioxide in your body. One way to monitor your breathing is to do a test with a stopwatch. The steps to that exercise are listed below.

  1. Perform this test in the morning, shortly after waking up

  2. At the end of breathing out normally, start the stopwatch

  3. Stop the stopwatch once the need for normal breathing arises (This should be a normal breath and not a gasping breath)

  4. The goal time frame for this exercise is about 40 seconds in between breaths, however, the majority of people tend to breathe too frequently causing the necessity of about every 15-20 seconds. 

Another metric to keep in mind is heart rate. Keeping track and monitoring your heart rate is a great way to assess your performance and prevent exhaustion. While heart rate targets vary depending on age and gender, the average resting heart rate is between 60-100. Athletes and those that are more active can get their heart rate in the range of 40-50 for their resting heart rate! 

Having mentioned heart rate, breathing, and key indicators of over-exercising it is also imperative that you focus also on what you’re putting in your body to replenish and recover.

Diet

One last key factor in a healthy, and timely recovery from a workout is what we eat. The energy we expend, and the energy required for a worthwhile and satisfying workout needs to be obtained from the right sources. The ideal option would be high in nutrients, and benefits such as a superfood. These options provide your body with the nutrients, vitamins, and energy you need. 

Chlorella Is an Important Superfood

One popular option is chlorella, which is a superfood that provides more chlorophyll than the leading alternatives and also contains a highly absorbable form of B12 called Active B12. The benefits from this superfood are achieved by extracts, powders, and even noodles. If you are interested in learning more about high-quality superfoods, please contact us at Sun Chlorella