CrossFit is a high intensity, physically demanding activity that places strain on your body. While this exertion is beneficial to muscle development and cardiovascular improvement, it can, at times, leave even the most experienced athlete feeling sore and run down. It is quite common to place more emphasis on the workouts themselves and neglect the recovery process that your body needs to make even more progress. To compliment your hard work in the gym, follow these recovery guidelines and reap the benefits!
While it may seem counterintuitive to move your body when at times you feel so sore that you don't think you can, light, low-intensity activity can minimize post-exercise stiffness. Walking your dog, going for a bike ride or an easy swim can actually reduce the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles. Movement increases blood flow to your aching muscles, thus aiding in their repair and recovery.
Mobility and Stretching
Although not the most exciting part of your fitness regimen, keeping a mobile body by stretching and foam rolling regularly, for about 15-20 minutes a day, is key to the recovery process. Foam rolling helps flush the toxins from your muscles, relieving soreness. Regular stretching lengthens your muscles and improves your joints' range of motion. Both help warm the body up prior to activity, thus decreasing your risk of injury as well as muscle soreness. These activities can also be used as a cool-down post workout and as preventative measure for next-day soreness.
Better recovery could be just a bottle of water away, but many people are dehydrated without evening knowing it. A good goal to shoot for is 1/2 to one once of water per pound of bodyweight. Water helps fuel your muscles and lubricate your joints. Drinking more during your workout AND throughout the day will boost energy and help reduce the chance of muscle cramps and sprains. Drinking enough water also helps flush toxins from your body and muscles, ultimately reducing your soreness on a daily basis.
While there's no universal guideline that we can apply for everyone's sleep needs, on average, an adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Quite simply, while you're sleeping, your body is repairing itself, devoting all of its energy to healing your tired, sore muscles. Your brain triggers the release of hormones that encourage tissue growth. This can help you recover from injuries or sore muscles from your previous workouts. If you're getting low-quality sleep or not enough sleep in general, it's going to catch up to you and affect your body's ability to heal itself.
Take a Rest Day
Even those athletes who follow all of these guidelines will still have days where they feel excessively sore and unable to workout. The most important thing you can do in your recovery process is to listen to your body. If you are feeling tired and sore for multiple days in a row, you may need a little extra recovery time or a break from training for the day. That's okay- you are not going to lose all of your progress by taking a day off. In fact, excessive exercise and heavy training at every single session, combined with a lack of rest and recovery, will hinder your progress in the gym.