Heavy lifting such as CrossFit can be very taxing on the entire body. Most people do not realize that physical stress, (not just mental stress) can also trigger adrenal fatigue. Not only do the muscles need to recover, but the entire body needs to heal from the stress induced by heavy lifting. Some of the most amazing athletes know that they need to rest and recover in order to maintain their strength, stamina, and ability to perform at their best. What are some things you can do now to speed the recovery process and heal faster?
Magnesium plays an important role in the production of energy. Being deficient in magnesium can have a negative effect on sports performance. Magnesium is a calming mineral, and can turn the body from being in a stress-state or sympathetic state into a parasympathetic or relaxed state. According to this study, magnesium supplementation reduced the stress response in the body for the athletes. There are different many different forms of magnesium, but to help with muscle recovery and overall relaxation after a tough workout, transdermal magnesium massages and magnesium bath soaks are both great solutions! Soak for 20 minutes after a workout for best results.
2. Include gelatin in your diet.
All that heavy lifting can be taxing on your joints and cartilage! Although gelatin protein doesn’t necessarily support initial muscle healing (you need to include nutrient dense sources of protein, such as pasture raised meats and wild seafood which contain all essential amino acids), gelatin is great for the joints, and helps with stiffness and pain associated with heavy lifting. Gelatin contains high amounts of glycine and proline, which are both anti-inflammatory and great for joints. According to this research, gelatin was beneficial for symptom relief of osteoarthritis, and can stimulate change and enhancement of cartilage tissue. Try adding it to your morning coffee or tea, or even as part of your recovery drink.
3. Prioritize sleep!
In our ‘rush rush’ culture, sleep is often not a priority. Sleep is perhaps one of the most important means to recovery. When we are asleep, the body can heal and renew. Most of us are not getting enough sleep. For athletes, not getting enough sleep makes for slower healing time, increased stress, and decreased recovery. According to this research, adapting appropriate sleep hygiene and healthy sleeping habits are important for optimal athletic performance. Sleep needs to become our number one health priority, rather than our last. A few things that can help ease into a good night’s sleep are to stay off of all screens 2 hours before bedtime, and to have a routine that includes reading, gentle stretching, a warm bath, or something you find relaxing. It’s important to keep the same routine and bedtime every night.
4. Take yoga.
There is no better way to stretch out those fatigued muscles and improve recovery than by taking a yoga class. Yoga enhances strength, stamina, and flexibility. According to bodybuilding.com:
‘Yoga is the best medicine for preventing injuries and aiding muscle recovery and repair. When the muscles and surrounding tissues are lengthened and relaxed during yoga asana (Sanskrit word for postures) it creates more room for blood to flow.’
Yoga also forces you to take time to just ‘be’ without thinking. This can help significantly with emotional stress, which is also taxing on the body. Even one yoga class a week can really help athletes with recovery and performance!
5. Eat a sweet potato instead of an apple!
Glycogen depletion can cause fatigue for athletes. Low glycogen can be a limiting factor in both performance and recovery. It’s important to get glycogen directly to the muscle during recovery. Adequate carbohydrate during the recovery period is important in this metabolic process. However, the type of carbohydrate consumed actually makes a big difference! Fruit sources of carbs contain fructose, and fructose does not help with restoring glycogen nearly as much as glucose does. These researchers studied muscle recovery with glucose vs fructose. They found that glucose restores muscle glycogen 40% faster than fructose! They believe fructose is absorbed slower in the intestines, blood glucose is significantly higher with glucose vs fructose and therefore higher plasma insulin results in increased glucose uptake. Finally, fructose gives rise to more liver glycogen than glucose. This lowers muscle glycogen directly available for muscle glycogen synthesis. -Read more.
Fructose is found in fruit like apples, pears, peaches, oranges, etc. The better thing to reach for when recovering are starchy vegetables like tubers, sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, beets, carrots and squash. These are all great ‘read food’ way to get glycogen to the muscle. Some athletes find that white rice right after a workout works great for them as well.
*Remember not to overtrain, and to listen to your body. It’s counterproductive if you are not getting adequate sleep and nutrition, yet still training.