I’m asked by weekend warriors fairly often for tips to recover from hard workouts or even injuries faster. They often see professional athletes return from injuries much quicker than they do from similar injuries. While each of these tips might not help your recovery and performance, they are components most elite athletes use regularly.
Sleep is crucial to rest and recovery. I realize that we all have busy work schedules and hectic personal lives. Sleep is important for proper hormone production, though. You need to find ways to get seven to eight hours of continuous sleep.
Experiment with ice or ice baths after strenuous exercise. There’s no consensus among researchers on how effective ice baths are at relieving pain or sore muscles after intense training. Many high-level athletes use it routinely. Try very short applications of ice packs or cold baths to avoid the shock of ice-water baths. If you like the effects of this cryotherapy, you can slowly increase the length of time and lower temperatures.
Create an off-season. Most pro sports have at least two to three months off. These rest periods are crucial to allow the athletes’ bodies to recover and prepare for the next season. You don’t have to quit exercising altogether. You could vary your routine and cut back the intensity or frequency of training.
If you do suffer an injury, even a serious one, you still need to keep up your fitness. It’s almost always possible to perform cardiovascular activity without stressing the injured body part. Depending on the injury, you could swim, ride a stationary bike, or perform another substitute exercise.
Lastly, elite athletes, especially in team sports, have athletic trainers and access to physical therapists and sports medicine doctors. They have every minor ache checked out before it becomes a major problem. While you might not have a medical staff with you every day, you can go to the doctor or work with a physical therapist soon after problems arise rather than pushing through them for months.
These tips to recover might not help you make millions of dollars like pro athletes, but they might improve your performance and keep you healthy.