By Laura Jackson

Nowadays, there’s a great focus on the value of recovery after exercise, and with good reason.
The field of exercise science continues to find more evidence that it’s actually recovery that enables our bodies to build strength, endurance and lean muscle tissue. Not allowing ourselves needed recovery time may not only leave us weaker, but it also increases the risk of injury.

Beating Back Jet Lag

108Making the most of every minute of your vacation in Park City is the prize jet lag can rob you of. We have some expert tips on how you can gain victory over that sluggish, headachy feeling caused by time zone changes messing with your circadian rhythm.

First, feed your body what it needs. The Vitamin Bar (thevitaminbariv.com) offers a specially formulated combination of minerals and vitamins delivered straight into your bloodstream. It may put the spring back in your step in as little as 45 minutes.

Next, consider taking the all-natural sleep aid, Melatonin (check with your doctor first). Melatonin can be a vacation-saver by helping you fall asleep when you want to. Also, shaking a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow will promote relaxation and deep sleep.

Lastly, soak up the Utah sunshine. Whether you’re on the slopes or unwinding on a deck, spending time in the sun will help you adjust to Mountain Time Zone by calibrating your inner clock.

Jet lag doesn’t have to ruin even a day of your vacation. Give your body every tool available to beat it back!

Rehydrate

109Yes, we’ve all heard this one before, but do we remember just how vital it is? And really, just how easy too.

Because of all the fluid we lose during workouts, experts recommend that ideally we should be replacing it during exercise, but replenishing afterwards is also a key to boosting recovery. At higher altitudes, rehydrating becomes even more important. Sweat evaporates more quickly with the low humidity, often making us less likely to realize how much we’re losing through exertion. Plus, lower oxygen levels means you breathe in and out faster and more deeply, causing your body to lose more water through respiration.

Water supports the body on so many levels, including digestion, immune function, and body temperature, as well as every metabolic function and nutrient transfer. It keeps the cartilage around our joints hydrated and supple, while protecting our spinal cord and tissues. The Journal of Nutrition reported that as little as a two percent decrease in your body’s normal water volume is enough to cause headaches, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Exercising while dehydrated has also been shown to cause greater damage to muscles and reduce the body’s ability to repair itself.

“The Journal of Nutrition reported that as little as a two- percent decrease in your body’s normal water volume is enough to cause headaches, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.”

Massage

111bThere are many reasons why everyone from world-class athletes to weekend warriors and casual exercisers often choose massage as a means of exercise recovery. For starters, massage works to elongate the muscles, relieve muscle tightness, restore joint range of motion, and improve circulation.

Studies have shown that therapeutic massage can elicit increased blood circulation, increased diameter of blood vessels, and decreased blood pressure. A University of Maryland Medical Center research study reported: “When a practitioner massages soft tissue, electrical signals are transmitted both to the local area and throughout the body.
These signals, in combination with the healing properties of touch, help heal damaged muscle, stimulate circulation, clear waste products via the lymphatic system, boost the activity of the immune system, reduce pain and tension, and include a calming effect.”

Scientists at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada revealed that massage could help reduce inflammation, as well as promote the growth of new mitochondria, the energy- producing units in the cells, following strenuous exercise. They concluded that while massage can help manage pain relief, it can also encourage muscle recovery.

Making the Most of your Massage

Avoid eating right before
Massage stimulates digestion, so a full meal right before may leave you feeling queasy afterwards.
Eating lightly one to two hours beforehand is best.

Arrive early to decompress
When you arrive late or rushed, it simply takes longer to get to that ideal relaxed, healing state you’re seeking.

Warm up your muscles
Cold muscles are often tense muscles. A great pre-massage activity is the relaxation of mind and muscles that results from taking a warm shower.

Communicate with your therapist
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, this step can make or break your experience. Besides issues of room temperature, music levels, and oil scents, don’t be afraid to be clear with your therapist on pressure levels. The “no pain, no gain” method doesn’t always apply here. Too much force can cause a muscle to tighten up more and create more pain afterwards.

Remember to breathe
Breathing helps with relaxation, as well as oxygenating your blood supply to aid tense muscles. Counterintuitive to the whole experience, we often tense up or unconsciously stop breathing when a therapist reaches a sensitive spot. Taking long, deep, relaxing breaths from the abdomen helps to relax both our minds and muscles.

Do not schedule exercise after massage
Think again if you’re trying to squeeze in your favorite fitness class after your massage. Stress and strain to the muscles that were just relaxed is a bad idea. However, a workout beforehand can be a great way to warm
up and ready your muscles for massage.

Hydrate post-massage
Drinking lots of water afterwards is essential for rehydrating, building healthy muscle tissue and removing metabolic wastes.

Avoid the post-massage coffee
Drinking caffeine right after a massage can tense the muscles that were just worked on. Herbal teas or water are much better choices.

Repeat the regimen
As with any healthy habit, the best results are usually seen on a cumulative basis, and as part of a long-term wellness routine. It’s difficult to get all the kinks and muscle pain under control with one massage treatment, so receiving regular body tune-ups will always result in the best outcome.

Allow transitioning time afterwards
Prolong the post-massage bliss for as long as possible. Making time afterwards to take it slowly, and perhaps even indulge in a nap, can help extend the benefits of your massage.

“Massage works to elongate the muscles, relieve muscle tightness, restore joint range-of- motion, and improve circulation.”

Refuel

113It’s a no-brainer that after depleting our energy stores during exercise, we need to eat properly to recover, repair tissues, and be ready for our next adventure. Our bodies crave protein and carbs after exercise, and both of these aid in repairing and replenishing.

Sports science experts explain that protein provides the amino acids needed to rebuild muscle tissue damaged during intense or prolonged exercise. Protein can also improve muscle hydration through an increase in the absorption of water. The amino acids in protein support the immune system better preparing the body to fight infection.

The dizzying amount of sports nutrition shakes, drinks and bars available can be overwhelming. But the beauty of an old childhood favorite is back in vogue—chocolate milk. Even USSA High Performance Chef Allen Tran recommends it when athletes are looking for a good source of energy for intense skiing sessions. He explains, “Chocolate milk is great as it has protein and carbs all together in one package.”

“Our bodies crave protein and carbs after exercise, and both of these aid in repairing and replenishing.”

Cryo

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Snooze

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Listen

117Often the most important thing you can do to ensure the fastest recovery is to listen to your body. Feeling overly- tired, painfully-sore, or noticing decreased performance may suggest you simply need more recovery time. Some other warning signs include a weakened immune system, diminished appetite, elevated resting heart rate, and mood changes.

While regular workouts aim to increase muscle mass, decrease body fat and make you feel energetic, alive, and at the top of your game, over-doing it can lead to diminished strength and even increased body fat as your body begs for a break. So, no matter which types of exercise work best for you, remembering the importance of recovery time is essential.