How and why to optimize muscle recovery

How and why to optimize muscle recovery

“Why is the muscle affected after a sports session?

For two reasons. On the one hand, because by producing energy, the muscle also creates waste, due to chemical reactions produced within the cell to produce energy. The nature of this waste will depend on the process used (aerobic or anaerobic). Whatever the case, they more or less attack the muscle during and after the session, since the muscular activity continues for a certain period of time.

Another factor, physical activity creates muscle microlesions due to an unusual and traumatic stress on the muscle that needs to be repaired as quickly as possible. Fortunately, in the majority of painless cases, these micro-lesions can manifest themselves in the form of cramps, contractures or aches.

Are these effects the same regardless of the sport practiced?

It all depends on the duration and intensity of the activity. There are two types of sport: explosive sports (boxing, sprinting, team sports, fitness, bodybuilding), which are brief but high intensity, and endurance sports (running, cycling) with a more moderate effort, over time. . The first cause more micro-traumas, the practice being based on a maximum capacity of the muscle. The latter produce more organic waste. Explosive sports, more split up, allow to evacuate part of the waste during the session. It is a form of active recovery: difficult sequences are alternated with recovery sequences during which the muscle, oxygenated, regenerates and releases toxins.

Does stretching help the muscle recover better?

The question is currently debated among specialists between those who recommend avoiding them immediately after exercise and those who, on the contrary, consider them essential. Affected by more or less significant lesions, the muscle is already traumatized. The ideal would therefore be to let it rebuild itself to stretch it a few hours later. But in reality, few force themselves to do so within this time frame. My advice: it is better to stretch it briefly after the session gently and smoothly than not at all! The ideal would be to run beforehand for 10 minutes of cleaning so that the muscles have started to regenerate.

How long does it take for the muscle to recover?

Difficult to estimate. This time is variable according to the intensity and the duration of the effort, according to the training of the person, but also the actions carried out just after the effort to help him to recover. Overall, the full recovery time is estimated between 24 and 48 hours. But aches are not necessarily a reliable marker: they can still be present and the body is nevertheless ready to go on to another session and vice versa. As a general rule, it is habit and knowledge of one’s body that makes it possible to make one’s own self-assessment.

How to minimize recovery time?

A cleanse in the wake of the activity, ie 10 minutes of active recovery at a slow pace (jogging, cycling), can save up to 24 hours. Other methods: electrostimulation for better vascularization and therefore evacuation of waste and a relaxing effect on the muscles, or even cryotherapy (exposure to temperatures of -120 to -150°). Self-massage makes it possible to act directly on damaged muscle fibres, to drain accumulated toxins, to reduce micro-lesions and to relax the fibres. Finally, the sauna is also very effective in relaxing muscles using heat and improving blood circulation in injured muscles, in order to facilitate the evacuation of toxins. Without forgetting, more generally, to pay particular attention to the three pillars of recovery: food, hydration and sleep.

What foods should be favored for better muscle recovery?

Food is unquestionably the first recovery factor for the muscles. It is essential to replenish your overall nutrient capital. A protein intake is essential to operate this reconstruction, animal proteins (dairy, fish, meat, etc.) being recognized as better assimilated by the body than vegetable proteins. Often suffering from a bad reputation, red meat, if it is chosen of quality, is interesting because it is rich in iron and essential proteins. But the intake should not be restricted to this family of nutrients. The muscle also needs carbohydrates to function, especially since the stock of glycogen has been depleted during the effort. Hence the interest of dairy products such as milk drinks, which have the advantage of compiling two types of protein (slow and fast) to meet the body’s needs over time, and of presenting the necessary intake of carbohydrates.

Any last advice?

A complete diet, rich in proteins and carbohydrates, a recovery jog after the session, associated with a sauna for approximately two sequences of 10 to 15 minutes interspersed with a cold shower. The ideal cocktail to optimize muscle recovery as much as possible. »


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