With the world largely in quarantine and self isolation with the global COVID-19 outbreak, it is essential that we remember to build daily exercise into our routines at home. However, even more important is to allow our bodies to properly recover. With a lack of access to our usual resources, such as physiotherapists, saunas, ice baths and the like, we have written a short guide for some of the essential elements that you will want to consider while in isolation.
5 Things You Need To Know About Recovery While In Isolation
Time to read: 6 minutes
- What happens during recovery
- Short term Vs long term recovery
- Adjusting your exercise
- Importance of sleep
- Balance of rest and exercise
Relaxation and recovery are essential for several psychological and physiological reasons
Most athletes know that recovery is key to achieving good results, but the majority still feel guilty when having a one-day rest. While in isolation, it is easy to confuse being at home with rest, but they are not necessarily one-in-the-same. Days of relaxation and recovery are essential for several physiological and psychological reasons. Even when training at home, rest is physically needed so that the muscles can be restored, re-built and strengthened. Getting the right balance between our at home training and recovery will help to balance the goals and demands of being limited in our environments, work and training. Right now, that balance is essential to maintaining our mental strength as well as physical strength and day-to-day relationships.
If you are a full time athlete, it can be easy to fall into the trap of training all day to stave off boredom, but if you don’t pay enough attention to recovery and rest, this could lead to complications such as over training syndrome. This usually happens to athletes who are training for a competition or a particular event, occurring if they train beyond their body’s capability to recover. Without sufficient relaxation and recovery, these training regimes usually decrease achievement and performance.
If you are not a full time athlete and like me, are rushing between the turbo trainer and the next meeting. Over training is less likely, but you need to be doubly mindful of getting the right nutrition and hydration into your body. Not getting distracted from this by the stresses and demands of work. Prepare these in advance so that they're ready for when you finish, and, if you are also like me, you can look forwards to eating whatever it might be to get you through the session!
What happens during recovery?
Planning for recovery is necessary, because it is during this time that the body adjusts to exercise effort, and begins to feel the effects of continuous training. Recovery also allows the body to restore energy supplies and repair injured tissue. Exercise, or any other form of physical activity, causes changes in the body, such as splitting of muscle tissue and a discharge of energy stocks, as well as fluid loss. The recovery period allows the restoration of energy stores and tissue reconstruction. Be sure to allocate time for recovery when you are at home, make sure to eat right, and stay hydrated. This blog does not include much specific nutrition advice, but we do cover it in our Ultimate Recovery Guide which you can register for at the bottom of the page. We also previously published a three part series on "Eating for Performance and Weight Management".
Short term and long lasting recovery
There are two types of recovery. Immediate (short-term) recovery, which follows directly after exercise. In addition to that, long-lasting recovery should be included in your training schedule too. Both types are important for achieving your isolation exercise success, and making sure that the temptation to not train doesn't get too strong.
Short term recovery, sometimes called active rest, follows within hours after intense exercise. You want to focus on glycogen replenishment, re-hydration and flushing lactic acid from the muscles. Active recovery refers to non-intensive exercise after training, during the resting period. Our infrared recovery garments come in very handy here, as they can simulate active recovery
modalities in the body, while you are sat on the sofa. Their circulation and tissue oxygen boosting effects are key to the removal of waste products and delivery of nutrients to the cells. They also drastically reduce DOMS, which we have all battled with at some point in our training, whether amateur or elite. We will cover more on Active Recovery in the Ultimate Recovery Guide (bottom of the page).
Another important factor in this type of recovery is the recovery of energy supplies and fluids which are lost during training. Hydration plays a major role here, and it’s equally important to replenish the lost electrolytes and minerals as it is your water levels. Furthermore, the optimisation of protein synthesis (a process that increases protein content in the cell, prevents muscle breakdown and increases muscle mass) with the proper dietary approach after exercise is extremely vital.
This is also the time when soft tissue recovery occurs (muscles, tendons, ligaments) alongside the further removal of accumulated chemicals that are the product of cellular activity during training, such as lactic acid. Most well-designed scheduled programs include days or weeks of recovery. This is also why athletes and coaches develop training programs throughout the year, adding cross training and modifying exercise types by changing intensity, time, distance, and all other variables. Specifically, planned recovery days are equally important.
Adjusting the exercise
The principle of adjustment says that when we undergo physical exercise, our body adjusts and becomes more effective. It's like learning a new skill. Initially, it is difficult, but in time becomes natural and habitual. Once we adapt to a certain level of effort, we need to do more, to make progress. There are limitations on the amount of effort a body can tolerate. Too much physical exercise will result in injury and muscle damage, but too little will not produce the improvements required to achieve your goals.
Perhaps more important for us all while training from home though, is also to build variety into our training plans to keep us mentally engaged. If you are limited in equipment, then vary your
training techniques so that you are combining different forms of work out (HIIT, Endurance, High cadence, etc.) while making use of what you have available to you. Should anyone be looking to build in some variety for their cycle training at home, we are running remote training sessions every day, to bring world class coaching into our homes with coach Scott Maclean, cycle and triathlon coach as well as sport scientist.
Sleep is essential
Generally, one or two bad-sleep nights will not have much impact on performance. However, persistent sleep loss results in hormone level changes, especially those associated with stress, muscle recovery, and general mood. Although no one fully understands all the complexities of sleep, studies show that sleep loss leads to increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), which can be harmful to your immune system, and decreased activity of growth hormone, crucial for muscle tissue reconstruction. Again, we have to be equally mindful of maintaining our mood here, as well as how we feel physically. Many of us will be yearning for the great outdoors and more human contact before too long, so make sure to get enough rest to keep a level head.
We have seen fantastic results with athletes sleeping in their KYMIRA IR50 products. With data showing 16% or more improvements in sleep quality. Athletes were found to achieve more deep sleep when sleeping in their leggings and/or hoody.
Balance exercise and recovery
Activity adaptation requires recovery changes in order for you to keep achieving your goals while in isolation. The need for rest increases with the intensity of your training. By tracking training intensity using a diary, and by paying attention to the signals that your body sends, you will be able to determine the need for recovery, enabling appropriate adjustments to the training program. You can also use your schedule to maximise recovery times in between each session or training block. For example, if you can fit two sessions in a day, you are better to fit them both into the morning and have the full day to recover thereafter (work schedule permitting of course).
We hope that you have found this blog useful. In addition to this introduction to the importance of recovery, we have partnered with Dr Gary Bartlett to write the Ultimate Recovery Guide. We cover nutrition, exercises, psychology and more!
Sign up below to receive your copy today.