The global objectives of recovery/regeneration and the general strategies to address them are:
1) Restore Glycogen Levels -. The goal of recovery is Glycogen levels to at least to pre exercise levels. In order to be effective carbohydrate (CHO) should be taken within a 2-hr. window after exercise. Low Glycogen will result in fatigue, tiredness, dizziness, light headedness, sleeplessness and muscle soreness. The guidelines for replenishment of glycogen levels to pre exercise levels are: 1grams of carbohydrate per kilogram per hour for first 2 hours post-exercise. 1.2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight per hour in 15-30 min intervals for up to 4 hrs post exercise.
2) Minimize the Breakdown of Muscle - This is a cumulative process; it is seldom one workout than can cause this. The stress of several hard workouts or a very demanding competition, especially a hard endurance sessions or heavy lifting sessions, put the body in a catabolic state where tissue is broken down. In order to recover the body must repair this damaged tissue by shifting to anabolic or muscle building state. The guidelines to minimize the catabolic effect of training are: Follow the protocol for carbohydrate but use a 1:4 protein to CHO ratio for protein. Research has shown that that six grams of protein will accelerate protein synthesis after exercise.
3) Restore Depleted Electrolytes - This is an ongoing process that must be addressed both intra and inter workout. It is imperative that the athlete has a well planned strategy to address this. Replacement of essential electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, potassium, chloride and calcium to prevent heat illness, nausea, confusion, headaches, sleeplessness, post-exercise fatigue, muscle soreness and GI distress. It is imperative that the athlete avoid colas, coffee, tea and alcohol as these drinks have a diuretic effect which will delay the rehydration process.
4) Hydrate and Rehydrate - This is the easiest aspect of recovery to implement, but perhaps because it is so easy it is often forgotten until the athlete is in a distressed state. It is a factor anywhere the athlete is training, not just in a hot humid environment. Hydration will minimize dehydration, stabilize the blood volume, and prevent muscle cramping. The guidelines for fluid replacement are: Athletes should weigh in before and after training to estimate sweat loss. Each kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of weight loss is equal to one liter of sweat loss. In order to re-hydrate after training drink1.5 times the calculated volume of sweat loss. Use a commercially available drink that combines rapid absorption rates (hypotonic characteristics) with adequate amounts of carbohydrates and electrolytes.
5) Reduce Inflammation – The stress of training produces micro tears and swelling in muscle tissue. Inflammation is a natural protective mechanism of the body to heal and stimulate blood flow to the damaged tissue. There must be a balance between allowing the body’s natural inflammatory response to take place and minimize swelling that could inhibit training in following training sessions. The best way to reduce inflammation and stimulate blood flow in gentle movement combined with ice.
6) Reduce Muscle Soreness – Muscle soreness is the natural result of training Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a well-established phenomenon. With DOMS the athlete is more sore the second and third day post exercise. The steps to control DOMS are a systematic cooldown that stimulates blood flow to the targeted muscles, gentle rhythmic exercise and static stretching. Gentle exercise in a swimming pool is very effective.
7) Boost the Immune System – Systematic high level training will severely stress the body’s immune system. This must be addressed by moderating lifestyle and through proper nutrition. It is recommended to supplement with vitamin C to enhance the immune system. 8) Proper sleep - Get at least 8 hours of continuous sleep every night. Rest more if traveling across time zones and allow sufficient time between training sessions for recovery. If it is determined that somewhat less than the recommended 8 hours of sleep is being achieved, a “sleep debt” is incurred. If sleep debts occurs, then steps should be taken to repay the sleep debt. You can make up sleep debt using all or any of the following: Going to bed earlier each night for an extended period of time. If your schedule permits, take a 30 – 60 minutes nap during the day.