The most important fuel for training that you're probably not getting enough of

Are you getting enough recovery? Many athletes and weekend warriors are not. This results in a lack of glycogen, between your strenuous training plan and full-time job, family commitments, and god forbid a social life, when are you giving your muscles the time to properly recover and restore?

Recovery, the one thing you're most likely to overlook, is the best way to restore your muscle glycogen, the most important fuel for your muscles and an essential fuel for intense exercise.

Interestingly this research demonstrated a parallel between the perception of fatigue during prolonged or intense activity and the decline in muscle glycogen. So your glycogen levels will also play a part in your feelings of fatigued.

"Put simply, without recovery we can’t restore glycogen levels and without healthy glycogen levels, we can’t perform well."

Frustratingly for everyone with busy lives, the restoration of glycogen is a slow process and so getting straight out there again without proper recovery can mean we’re training without the fuel in our muscles required for the job. We won’t be building muscle efficiently and we will be causing damage without the ability to repair properly. For best results, we need to schedule a solid recovery plan.

Sports recovery encompasses a range of activities (or inactivities). It’s the time that your body needs to take everything it’s been doing over the last few tough sessions, repair, restore and build.

Sports coaches use a variety of regular treatments to keep their athletes in top-notch shape, so if you’re training hard for something, take this advice and create your recovery plan as well. Here are 5 elements to a solid recovery plan;

1. Sleep is one of the best aspects of your recovery plan, make sure you get enough of it. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep, if you’re training most days you will need more sleep than the average person - about 9-10 hours. A lack of sleep can result in loss of aerobic endurance, increased levels of stress hormones, and even a decrease in growth hormones which is the opposite of the effect you’re interested in.

2. Nutrition and hydration is essential to get right. Drinks with carbohydrates are recommended to keep on top of the muscle glycogen stores, also make sure that you have enough protein for muscle repair. For women, iron is very important, sometimes supplements are needed, but check with your GP first. There are tons of electrolyte, protein shakes, and recovery drinks on the market. Just be aware that they are not all as they seem. Look for high levels of sugars or hidden sugars. Quality is really important when it comes to nutritional supplements. Seeking help from a nutritionist can be really helpful to navigate and see which is the best for you and your lifestyle.

3. Massage you'd expect to see this on the list from us, but it is also because we really believe in the power of soft tissue maintenance work. A regular massage, to keep your muscles feeling relaxed and refreshed, and reduce stress levels, contributes to removing the elements that may hinder recovery. This is also a fantastic opportunity for your therapists to identify any areas of concern that may be coming up, and jumping on niggles before they become a problem.

4. At Home Care There is a host of at-home activities that you can also commit to;

* epsom salt baths

* ice baths - especially after a particularly heavy session

* compression garments

* self-release techniques - foam roller, spikey ball, bakballs

* active rest - low impact exercises specifically to work the opposing muscles to those you have been working in your sessions

5. STOP Finally, time off is an underrated way to recover, allow the glycogen stores to rebuild, so next time you train, you have the muscle’s favourite fuel at your fingertips. This is permission to truly stop. A training-free day - often hard for highly active and driven people to do, so schedule a fun, low-key activity instead. The distraction will help with the anxiety of not training! This gap in training will help the glycogen levels rebuild so you are ready to hit the road/gym/pool at your next session with full energy.

In summary, it's really important that you spend the time recovering. This is when "Stopping is Progress!"

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