No matter what level of physical functioning you are in right now, you can take the following actions to optimize the function of soft tissues that are responsible for movement (muscle and connective tissue). If you’re feeling good and are building up your activity and fitness levels, you should definitely take these steps to enhance muscle recovery and tissue repair after workouts. However, even if you’re struggling to maintain some level of physical activity, these steps can help you improve your muscle performance so that you can get to the next level sooner. No matter how good your health care professionals are, or how religious you are about implementing your treatment and/or therapy plan, you won’t get optimal results unless you take action on optimizing all aspects of soft tissue function.
1. Replace fluids (hydrate). Drink a lot during exercise, but ensure adequate fluid intake all day long regardless of activity level. Typically, you should be drinking 3 Litres of water per day without any workouts factored in. During high intensity exercise, you should be adding about 1 Litre of water per hour of exercise.
2. Eat well. Within 60 minutes after exercise, eat some high quality protein and some complex (unprocessed) carbohydrates such as quinoa or buckwheat. Every day, regardless of exercise levels, you need to make sure you’re getting enough high quality protein including several fish servings per week. Eat green leafy vegetables for magnesium which plays an important role in muscle function. Carbohydrates should come from whole fruits, vegetables and unprocessed whole grains such as barley, quinoa or steel cut oats.
3. Stretch after workouts and other activity. Be sure to consult a qualified exercise physiologist or other health professional to show you safe and appropriate stretches.
4. Get plenty of sleep, and make sure it’s high quality. Lack of quality, uninterrupted sleep can contribute to soft tissue disorders. Your body produces Growth Hormone during sleep, which is largely responsible for tissue growth and repair. Whatever the reason for your lack of quantity or quality sleep, you need to address it.
5. Do some active recovery exercises, which involves easy gentle movements. This can promote circulation to help the body transport nutrients and eliminate waste more efficiently. A Certified Exercise Physiologist can help guide you through appropriate active recovery exercises.
6. Use massage therapy on a regular basis. Finding a good Registered Massage Therapist can be valuable to helping your muscles function better, mainly by improving circulation to the soft tissues. But if you can’t afford daily massage therapy, get yourself a roller and a ball for self-massage.
7. Hot Cold Flush: after training using water to flush the metabolic waste from your tissues is not only invigorating but it will also allow you to fall asleep more easily. In a perfect world using a hot tub and a cold tub would be ideal, however using your shower can be just as effective. Keep the ratio 1:1 (Hot:Cold) repeat 4-6 times and always end on cold! For example, 30 seconds Hot followed by 30 seconds Cold, or 1 minute Hot followed by 1 minute Cold. Remember to always end on cold. If you can not handle “Cold” temperature than “Cool” temperature is also effective.