Exercise is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise makes you fit, healthy, and improves your stamina.
An important part of any exercise regimen is the rest period that aids recovery.
Exercise recovery is a series of steps/techniques you follow to recover from exercising. There are two basic types of exercise recovery.
Active exercise recovery - This includes performing light and low-impact exercises after a period of intense exercising. It helps your body cool down. Yoga, foam rolling, cycling, and walking are all active exercise recovery activities.
Passive exercise recovery - Passive recovery involves pausing your workout and resting. This is a state of complete inactiveness.
For regular healthy individuals, active exercise recovery is more beneficial than passive exercise recovery.
Some people can quickly recover from intense workouts, while others take more time.
Importance of exercise recovery
Muscles need anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to recover and rebuild.
If you are overworking the same muscles every day without any recovery period, you do more harm to your body than good.
Reduces Lactic Acid Build-up In The Body
Lactic acid builds up in the body due to intense exercise. Lactic acid build-up can cause sore muscles and pain. Exercise recovery prevents lactic acid build-up.
Muscle soreness is a common problem after exercise. Active exercise recovery can help prevent this.
Recovery prevents the onset of fatigue and keeps your energy levels high. Both of these factors augment athletic performance.
Overtraining syndrome (OTS) - Overtraining syndrome is a condition where you exercise more than what your body can handle. Overtraining results in the body not being able to recover back from the workout.
Lack of exercise recovery can result in overtraining syndrome. Here are the signs of OTS to look out for.
- Consistent muscle pain and soreness
- Continuously high heart rate
- Irritability and mental breakdown
- Constant feeling of tiredness
How does Genetics affect Exercise Recovery
The average time needed to recover from exercises depends on your genes. Some people are genetically designed to recover quickly, while others take more time. While many genes are involved in deciding your exercise recovery rate, two commonly discussed ones are the MMP3 and CKM.
The MMP3 gene helps produce a protein that breaks down collagen, fibronectin, and other kinds of structural proteins as a part of normal growth and development. This enzyme is important for repairing muscles and tissues.
A 2009 study discussed the effects of three polymorphisms of the MMP3 gene and the risks of developing Achilles tendinopathy. This is a condition that causes pain, inflammation, and stiffness of the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendon is a long band of fiber that connects the calf to the bone in the heel.
One of the major causes of Achilles tendinopathy is excessive workout or strain in the calf muscle because of the lack of sufficient exercise recovery period.
rs591058, rs679620, and rs650108 are three variants of the MMP3 gene that can increase your risk for developing Achilles tendinopathy. The CC genotype of rs591058, GG genotype of rs679620, and the AA genotype of rs650108 contribute to the risk.
The exercise recovery time may be higher for people who have these genotypes.
Creatine Kinase, M-type (CKM) is a gene that helps maintain stable energy levels in the body. This gene is also associated with muscle repair and inflammatory response.
A variant of this gene has been associated with exercise recovery time. People with the TT genotype require more time for exercise recovery when compared to the GG genotype.
Non-genetic factors influencing exercise recovery
Age - As you grow older, it takes a longer time to recover from the strain you put on your muscles and tissues. Exercise-related injuries also take a longer time to heal.
Diet - The food you eat can extend or shorten your recovery period after intense exercise. If you eat nutritious and healthy foods, you recover faster from the strain of exercising.
The kind of exercise - Low-intensity exercises require shorter recovery periods, while high-intensity exercises warrant longer ones.
Physical state - Healthier individuals have shorter exercise recovery periods than those with existing medical conditions.
Stress levels - Mentally stressed people find themselves taking a long time to recover from intense exercises. Highly stressed individuals will do better with low-intensity exercises like yoga and Tai Chi.
Taking long days of break from exercising - Just like how a machine that keeps running every day works better than a machine that is left to rust with inactivity, your body will recover faster from exercise if you keep training. On days you don’t exercise, practice low-intensity stretching, yoga, or Tai Chi.
What happens if you do not let the body recover?
In the absence of adequate rest periods, the following can happen:
- Difficulty in working out
- Weakness in the body
- Difficulty in sleeping due to muscle aches
- Unexplained tiredness and depression
- Reduction in your performance
- Lowered immunity leading to frequent diseases and infection
Recommendations for easy muscle recovery
Hydrate - There is nothing more important than hydrating your body after exercise. You lose a lot of fluids while working out, and if you do not replace them, it takes a longer time for your body to recover from the stress of exercising.
Opt for post-workout snacks - Just like how you provide your body with water, giving it proteins and carbohydrates to compensate for the calories burnt helps with faster exercise recovery. Along with exercise recovery exercises, snack on healthy protein-rich foods.
- Whole grain toast with peanut butter/almond butter
- A whole banana
- A bowl of Greek yogurt with fruits
- A protein bar
- Protein shake
- Pita and hummus
- A handful of nuts and seeds
- Roasted peanuts
As you keep working on exercise recovery techniques, the time taken for recovering from a workout session reduces. When you let your body recover after exercise every single time, your muscles and tissues will thank you for it and get stronger and recover faster.
Here are some popular recovery exercises/techniques you can try out.
- Stretching on a foam roll
- Simple stretching exercises
- Holding stretch poses for 30-60 seconds
- Slow walking on a treadmill
- Tai Chi
- Elevating your legs up on a wall for 5-10 minutes
Get your genetic testing done
Know if you are genetically designed to take more time to recover from exercises. If so, consider combining intense and low-intense workouts to prevent risks of injuries. Also, give your body enough rest.
- Exercise recovery rate is a measure of how soon your body heals from exercise and is ready to be worked out again.
- Factors like age, physical status, diet, and lifestyle can affect exercise recovery rate.
- Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) is a condition where you push your body to workout beyond its ability. OTS can lead to fatigue, soreness, constant pain, and serious muscle injuries.
- Some people genetically have a quicker exercise recovery rate than others. Certain variations in the MMP3 gene and the CKM gene can increase/decrease energy recovery time.
- When you do not give the body time to recover, your immunity drops down, energy levels come down, and you feel tired and sick all the time.
- Eating nutritious food, getting the right amount of sleep, practicing exercise recovery techniques, and staying stress-free all help improve the recovery rate.