Tag Archives: exercise recovery

Can Stretching Help Postexercise Recovery?

16 Oct

429_2[1]Stretching has been a part of most athletes’ training — as a warm-up activity — for as long as I can remember, and certainly well before that.  As stated in previous blog posts, current research does not support a rationale for pre-activity (workout, practice, game) stretching, as it loosens and elongates muscles and does not adequately or effectively prepare them for force generation (in fact, pre-activity stretching reduces strength and power output in the short-term).

Studies have shown that pre-exercise stretching is not effective in reducing postexercise soreness, but what about postexercise stretching?  Can it be considered a valid recovery strategy?

In short, maybe not.  A new study in the Strength and Conditioning Journal concluded that “The emphasis on dynamic movements rather than static stretch positions is important for recovery…”  The authors also determined that “Stretching before or after exercising does not confer protection from muscle soreness.”

Light, low-intensity activity that assimilates the movements of the activity, itself — a gradual, dynamic, movement-oriented cool-down — may be preferable for postexercise recovery.


Your thoughts?

What Are You Doing Outside the Gym?

9 Oct

M_Id_122832_Walking_the_dog[1]OK, so you’ve hit the gym a few times this week, and you’re feeling pretty good about it (as well you should).  And, since the effects of your workout are both cumulative and residual (studies show that the metabolic impact of resistance training persists in your musculature for up to 48 hours), you’re getting a good return on your exercise investment.

Keep doing what you’re doing and, additionally, consider this:  There are 168 hours in a week.  If you’re working out 2-3 days a week, for an hour each day, that leaves a lot of time spent outside the gym or weight room.  Are your efforts outside the gym complementing your time spent exercising?

Diet & Nutrition

There’s no need to be extreme or fanatical about what you eat, but your diet may be the single-most important aspect of your strength and fitness regimen.  You can drive a Ferrari but it won’t perform optimally on crappy fuel.  Same goes for your body.  The quantity of your dietary intake is important — you need an adequate and appropriate number of calories to consistently be at your best.  The quality of the foods you eat is equally important.  Your meals and snacks should be well-balanced, each incorporating clean carbs, healthy fats, and lean protein.  Check out my blog posts on pre- and post-workout nutrition.

Rest & Sleep

If you’re working hard in the weight room, your muscles need time to adequately recover and regenerate.  Always allow a day of rest between workouts, especially if the workouts involve similar muscle groups and movements.  And get a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis.  For most of us, 7-8 hours a night should help to ensure that we are ready to face the challenges of the day — mentally and physically.

Stay Active

Engage in outside activities and interests that require you to move around.  Cut the grass, work in your garden, walk the dog, take a hike or bike ride, go bowling.  Avoid excessive periods of inactivity.  Limit your time in front of the television and/or computer.  Don’t allow yourself to be sedentary.


Your thoughts?

Summer Fitness Made Easy

26 Jun

0803-summer-fitness_vg[1]Summer is a great time of year (the best, in my opinion), because it’s easy to improve your fitness without making wholesale changes to your routine.  Here are some tips for an active, healthy  — and fit — summer:

  • Get outside.  Walk. Run. Bike. Hike. Enjoy the warm weather. When it gets too hot, take advantage of the early morning and evening hours, when temperatures are more reasonable.
  • Be efficient in the gym. Get in; get your work done; get out.
  • Sleep in on the weekend. It can be difficult to get 7-8 hours every night during the week. Use the weekend to get a full, restorative night of sleep.
  • Eliminate excuses. Can’t get to the gym? Workout at home. Don’t have a lot of time? 10 minutes of concentrated activity is better than none at all.
  • Try a warm weather activity. Find something you enjoy and do more of it while the weather allows.
  • Workout with a friend. You’re more likely to stay on task with a partner.
  • Make more stops at roadside stands for fresh fruits and delicious summer vegetables.
  • Try a new stretch. Use a stretch band (rope or towel) to gently assist in pulling a muscle a little farther than your body would ordinarily allow.
  • Challenge yourself. Gradually and progressively increase the intensity of your workout — weight, reps, sets, reduced rest intervals, etc.
  • Set goals. A combination of short- and long-term goals is important to your success. An end-of-summer (or mid-summer) goal sets your motivation in motion and helps define direction and purpose.
  • Create a summer playlist. A new playlist can boost your motivation when you’re starting a new exercise routine. Keeping your music fresh can help keep your training fun.
  • Beat the heat. Stay hydrated, take frequent water breaks, and avoid midday workouts.
  • Pack a jump rope for your summer vacation.
  • Don’t overdo it. Take some time to recover and regenerate.


Your thoughts?

Compression Garments and Their Effects on Exercise Performance and Recovery

11 Mar

2012_Under_Armour_ColdGear_Mens_Ventilated_Compression_Shorts[1]Companies like Under Armour have revolutionized the compression garment industry.  And it has gone way beyond functionality, as this attire has become interwoven into our fashion culture.  Over the past several years, researchers have studied the use of compression garments to determine their potential effects on exercise performance and recovery.

The theory behind these products is that the compression they provide improves/increases circulation, which, in turn, enhances performance and recovery (keep in mind medical compression stockings have been used in the treatment of poor venous blood flow for more than 50 years).

Compression garments speed recovery through direct compression and improved muscle oxygenation. Wearing these garments after exercise has been shown to virtually eliminate delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and has shown real improvements in muscle recovery.

Recent research with athletes has shown that compression garments may provide ergogenic benefits (enhancing physical performance) for athletes during exercise by positively influencing psychological factors. Research has also shown that compression garments may promote enhanced recovery during periods following strenuous exercise.  Other investigations have suggested that the use of compression garments during recovery periods may reduce the symptoms associated with delayed onset muscle soreness.

Although there have been limited investigations linking the influence of compression garments on athletic performance, it appears the use of compression garments may have a positive effect on athletes during exercise and during recovery periods following exercise. To date, no studies have reported negative effects on exercise performance, and so the use of compression garments may provide a useful training tool for athletes across a wide variety of sports.

Ultimately, it appears that compression clothing is an effective recovery strategy following exercise-induced muscle damage.


Your thoughts?

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