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Top tips on how to look after yourself after training

After intense training or exercise, two of the most important factors are rest and recovery.

Here are three top tips on how athletes can look after themselves after training.

1. Post-training stretch

Warming up and mobilising before exercise is common and helps to activate your muscle groups.

However, you should also stretch after training to help clear waste products from your muscles.

You could try doing this in a warm shower, holding each stretch for 30 – 40 seconds to help get rid of those waste products as well as improve post-exercise flexibility and stimulate the muscle receptors that promote relaxation.

The key benefits of stretching for recovery are:

  • Static stretching may improve relaxation
  • Static stretching appears to be an effective means for improving flexibility
  • Static stretching after release of the stretch increases blood flow to the muscle which may help clear waste products

2. Recovery nutrition

The three R’s of recovery nutrition are refuel, rebuild and rehydrate.

  • Refuel with fast absorbed carbs
  • Rebuild with high quality protein
  • Rehydrate with fluids

You should snack as soon after training as possible and ideally within 30 minutes. You should try to consume 50 – 70g of carbs and 20 – 40g of protein.

If you struggle with your appetite after training, drinks are a great way to increase carb count.

Just a few suggested snack ideas for athletes after a hard training session are: one snack sized soreen (18g of carbs, 2g of protein and 2g of fat), one medium banana (20g of carbs, 1g of protein and 0g of fat), 300ml of semi skimmed cows milk (14g of carbs, 11g of protein and 5g of fat) or a strawberry and blueberry smoothie (27g of carbs, 13g of protein and 4g of fat).

3. Good sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is key to recovery after a hard training session.

Maintaining a sleep routine is one of the best tips to get good rest. Try to go to bed and wake up at around the same time each day.

Make sure you’re relaxed because your body responds to stress, so try and avoid anything that makes you stressed before bedtime.

Short naps (15 – 20 minutes) are said to be beneficial when sleep deprived. These should be taken during the early afternoon (1 – 3pm) so that there is no interference with your ability to sleep at night.

Try avoiding smartphones, laptops or video games before bedtime. Use the blue light blocking to help reduce their stimulating effects.

Avoid consuming caffeine late in the afternoon as this can impair sleep and large fatty meals at night will keep your digestive system working through the night, so this is something to avoid.

A high carbohydrate diet can decrease the time taken to get to sleep and a high protein diet improves sleep quality.