The Importance of Proper Recovery for Athletes

Both supplements and rest, be it active or passive, are both very beneficial for an athlete's recovery. Learn more about this topic in the following article.
The Importance of Proper Recovery for Athletes

Last update: 18 July, 2020

To talk about optimal sports performance, we have to emphasize the importance of recovery for athletes. Although many may downplay it, recovery is an important element of the adaptive process of sports. It’s part of the preparation for any athlete. Without adequate recovery, an athlete can’t reach their goals and could injure themselves.

When thinking about your training or competition plan, it’s imperative to plan a series of strategies to help mitigate the physical and psychological stresses. It’s also important, in order to avoid overloads, nutritional deficiencies, and fatigue, among other things.

Want to know more about this? In this article, we’ll detail what makes up the recovery process in sports and which supplements are most recommended.

What exactly is a recovery for athletes?

Athletic recovery is composed of all the methods and conditions that are put into practice once a workout or an athletic competition finishes. In fact, it really begins with the design of a balanced training schedule. This means having a schedule that’s adapted to the physical state of the athlete. A good recovery plan ensures that the athlete is better equipped to adapt to the stresses of the workout.

During the recovery process, the energy reserves of the body are restored. In addition, all of the substances that were involved with the execution of the physical work are restored. Physical capacities need to be reestablished as well, in order to increase performance and reduce the risk of injuries. According to an article published by EFSports Magazine:

“It’s proven that the efficacy of physical training depends on the speed with which your energy systems and substrates are lost during your workout and are able to recover.”

In this way, in order for the body to better recover after exercise, it’s necessary to intensify the synthesis of structural proteins and enzymes that have been destroyed during exercise. It’s also necessary to recover the ionic and hormonal balance in the body and completely reestablish the energy reserves.

Athlete resting

Strategies to aid in athlete recovery

Something that must be clarified is that recovery doesn’t look the same for every athlete. Trainers can help determine which strategies are most appropriate for each athlete. It all depends on factors such as age, the intensity of training, schedule, the type of sport being practiced, and the lifestyle of the athlete. In any case, in general, it usually includes the measures mentioned below:

Diet and supplements: recovery for athletes

Without a doubt, nutrition is an important determining factor in the recovery process for athletes. In the majority of cases, a dietitian-nutritionist or a professional specialized in sports nutrition oversees this. The objective is to ensure a balance between the total caloric intake and the athlete’s energetic expense.

In addition, it’s important to emphasize the different food groups that need to be consumed before, during, and after exercise or competitions. In terms of recovery, post-exercise nutrition is the most important. This can include certain supplements. Even though supplements shouldn’t be used as a substitute for food, they can still be useful in terms of optimizing recovery.

  • Citrulline. L-Citrulline supplements can increase levels of arginine in the blood. In fact, studies suggest that this supplement can raise levels of arginine in the blood even more than taking the same dosage of slow-release arginine. It’s used to slow down fatigue by using the lactate from physical activity that’s produced by generating ATP or energy.
  • Creatine. Creatine is considered an ergogenic aid because it helps increase athletic performance. Although the body produces creatine in a natural form, the supplement can still provide benefits in terms of increased resistance and formation of muscle mass. It’s one of the most highly recommended supplements for recovery for athletes since it reduces muscle damage. It’s frequently recommended for use after exercise. However, to get the most benefit, you can also take it several times a day. We suggest that you check out this guide to learn in more detail how to take it.
  • Electrolyte salts. When we sweat, we lose sodium, chloride, and potassium. We also lose certain minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron. This is why it’s so important to rehydrate after playing a sport. It can be useful to add a mineral salt to your water to help avoid dehydration.

Of course, there are endless options for supplements and they can be used for a diverse array of needs for an athlete. To correctly choose between one or another it’s a good idea to consult with a professional.

Active rest: recovery for athletes

Another important component of the recovery process for athletes is active rest. This rest is considered more effective because it involves the implementation of muscular relaxation exercises. Thanks to these exercises, there’s a relative increase in circulation which aids in the transportation of lactic acid from the muscles to the areas of elimination.

Stretching legs in open air

Passive rest

Also known as “total rest”, this is when the athlete refrains from any type of physical activity. This includes the nocturnal period of rest, where your brain activity regenerates your nerve cells. The ideal situation is to include at least one day of passive rest a week to increase your performance in your next physical activity.

Complementary techniques: recovery for athletes

Complementary techniques are activities that reduce both general and local fatigue that athletes experience as quickly as possible. This includes, for example, steam rooms and dry saunas, manual massage, compression, hydrotherapy, cryotherapy, and electrical stimulation, among others.

What do we need to keep in mind when it comes to athletic recovery?

The recovery phase of sports will guarantee an athlete’s success. It varies depending on the age of the athlete and the intensity of their sports practice. Recovery involves recuperating your energy reserves and the substances that your body lost during training. Because of this, it’s useful to take advantage of the benefits of supplements such as citrulline and creatine.

In any case, it’s always important to accompany your exercise regimen with adequate rest and implementing complementary techniques. By doing both of these things, you are helping to mitigate the physical and psychological stress that you’re exposed to.

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The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.