Another cross post from my mentor group.
The biggest thing you can do is sleep. Some of us have the ability to get 8-9hours of sleep a night and get a few naps each week. For others of us we get 6-7hours of sleep and dream of naps. Sleep is the greatest thing you can do for your body.
Following sleep the next best thing is post workout nutrition. You need to get some protein and carbs in after workouts. Immediately following is ideal, 5mins is great, within 30minutes is clutch. 1% chocolate milk is good because it contains the near ideal 4:1 protein to carb ratio.
Usefulness of the warm-up and cool-down. Warm-ups are good because they allow you to slowly increase your HR from rest and get your muscles ‘warmed’ up. A cool-down allows the same in reverse, instead of a hard stop you can gradually bring your body down.
Ice Baths: While they can be painful they can greatly decrease your recovery time and allow you to better utilize your allocated training time. Fill your bathtub with cold water, and slowly get in. Let your body adjust to the temperature. Dump one 5-pound bag of ice (or a few trays of ice) into the tub. The colder, the less time you need. Soaking in a tub filled with water and ice will help reduce inflammation of tissues and joints, relieve soreness, and speed up your recovery. The theory behind ice baths is related the fact that intense exercise actually causes microtrauma, or tiny tears in muscle fibers. This muscle damage not only stimulates muscle cell activity and helps repair the damage and strengthen the muscles. Constrict blood vessels and flush waste products, like lactic acid out.
Massages: Can help break up scar tissue, increase flexibility and stimulate blood flow. In theory a massage, “is an effective therapy for releasing muscle tension and restoring balance to the musculo-skeletal system. Received regularly this may help athletes prevent injuries, which might otherwise be caused by overuse. A constant build up of tension in the muscles from regular activity may lead to stresses on joints, ligaments, tendons, as well as the muscles themselves.”
Compression: In therory compression socks and the like work in a similar fashion to an ice bath. Again there is science to back this up. No science to show that compression helps during training.
Elevation: After a workout, you can lay on the ground with your legs up in the air. This will constrict blood vessels. After a few minutes when you get back up ‘new’ blood with flow back into your legs and help flush lactic acid and other waste products out.
Stretching: Helps to reduce soreness by increasing flexibility. Muscle contract after hard use and create that ‘hard’ feeling/look. Stretching helps to lengthen the muscles back out so that they can be fully utilized.
If you do get sick, it’s your body’s way of enforcing a moderated start and salvaging ego. The body is wise and by listening to it you are more likely to execute smartly. Above all listen to your body. Dial it back if you need to.