It’s time to recover from a tough workout

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By Dr. Ira Shapiro
Director, Plaza Chiropractic Center
Old Bridge

How much is too much? How do you know when to stop and start again?

These questions are commonly asked by everyone from weekend warriors to professional ballplayers before, during and after an intense workout. In fact, most elite athletes embrace the importance of rest and the body’s need to repair itself after intense physical activities as an integral part of their training regime.

The truth is recovery or the time in between workouts is essential for allowing the body to rebuild and strengthen muscles, soft tissue, tendons and ligaments. It also enables your physiology to adapt to the stress of exercise, while replenishing energy stores. Overtraining symptoms generally include a sense of malaise, depression, decreased performances and nagging aches and pains that never seem to go away.

This is because no matter the shape you’re in, gender or age, there are limits to the amount of stress that the body can absorb before it breaks down. Typically, muscles need an average of 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild. Taxing them again too quickly will not only increase the chance of injury, but can actually lead to diminished returns. As an example, that’s why intensive weight training routines should never be repeated two days in a row.

In addition, it’s extremely important to mix it up if you’re looking to get into a groove that includes working out every day. For instance, bike, swim, golf or garden on the days you’re not training for a half-marathon or the next tournament. The point of active recovery is to blend the mental health benefits of exercise with the movements needed to keep the blood flowing and reduce overall soreness. To follow suit, here are some relatively passive activities that can fit easily into hectic work and exercise schedules, while providing a deep sense of physical accomplishment:

  • Foam rolling is ideal for breaking up muscle adhesions and improving flexibility and joint function. Many athletes swear by its ability to control the healing process through the application of pressure to precise locations. In fact, numerous exercises exist for removing “knots” and releasing the tightness in achy backs, quads, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, butts and sides. Best of all, a good workout only takes 15–20 minutes and can be performed in your own home in front of the TV.
  • Yoga has become a favorite practice of men and women looking for a total workout that combines full-body strengthening with stretching and relaxation. In fact, yoga’s gentle, flowing motions are ideal for people, who are suffering from arthritis and require daily physical activity to keep flexible and improve joint function. As for athletes, yoga offers a creative way to enhance core strength and endurance, while improving range of motion and reducing performance anxiety through enhanced breathing techniques. It is the perfect cross training complement.
  • Take a hike. Don’t let the dropping temperatures and early evening darkness get in the way of a brisk, after-dinner walk. Many people actually find the solitude enlightening and the cold exhilarating. If you want company, take a family member, friend or even the dog. You’ll be surprised how quickly you adapt to the weather and find the light workout energizing and refreshing.

For more information on creating better, fitter and healthier lives for the entire family, contact Plaza Chiropractic Center at 732-723-0023 or visit www.plazachiro.com. Our trained staff will be happy to work with you, no matter your age or condition, to develop a safe and effective wellness program that complements your lifestyle and offers long-lasting fitness rewards.

Dr. Ira A. Shapiro is the director of the Plaza Chiropractic Center, which he founded in Old Bridge in 1984. Recently selected to the American Chiropractic Association Sports Council (ACASC) Hall of Fame and a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic team medical staff, Dr. Shapiro has spent the past 35 years providing safe, gentle and effective chiropractic care to tens of thousands of patients ranging from community members to professional athletes competing at the world’s highest levels.