Three Key Things for Swim Recovery
In swimming, so many things can affect your training such as your mood, energy, sleep, level of soreness and your overall health. Taking care of yourself with proper nourishment, a positive mindset and ample rest becomes just as important as your main set at practice (if you don't believe us, just ask any swim coach).
More specifically, when you're training day in and day out, recovery becomes a key component to your success. With a vigorous swim schedule your body can easily become over-exerted and tired, and while basic recovery seems like a no-brainer, it is often overlooked as a core part of your overall training.
Here are three key things to focus on for proper swim recovery.
It's no secret that swimmers are known for their love for food, and rightfully so. When you're swimming 7,000+ yards each day, and burning hundreds to thousands of calories, eating becomes a priority (right behind sleep). Michael Phelps wasn't rumored to have a 12,000 daily calorie intake for nothing (a normal daily intake would be about 1500 for active women and 1800 calories for active men).
Fueling your body with healthy and hearty meals before and after a swim, and quick bites in between, is extremely important for your energy levels and muscle recovery. And don't ignore a good breakfast in the morning!
Eating healthy meals is such an important part of your daily recovery, to get your body its proper nutrition. Look for foods that are nutrient-rich beyond just empty calories (i.e. sugar). That would be things like vegetables and fruits and simple carbohydrates. Stay away from processed foods -- and try to avoid fried and fatty foods before a swim. After your workout, you can add in some protein and fat. There are tons of literature out there about healthy eating and here are some of our quick eating tips for swimmers.
Aside from proper meals, there are also a ton of easy, grab-and-go snacks that make it convenient to refuel. Everyone knows about protein shakes and sports drinks (or chocolate milk), but in today's market there are so many other options such as chews, gels, dried fruit and nut medleys, and all natural bars. These snack packs are easy to stash in your swim bag, or keep in your car, for a quick fix.
Roll (Stretch) It Out
The golden rule when it comes to sports: you should always stretch, both before and after a workout. Regardless of what kind of athlete you are, allowing your muscles to loosen up and recover will make a world of difference in your training.
Many professional swimmers cross-train with yoga classes to help build their core strength and increase flexibility, but yoga is also a great way to stretch out after a hard swim, too. If yoga isn't your thing, you can easily work your muscles with the aid of resistance bands, to help your stretching. Work with a trainer to get the right exercises for you.
Another great option is to use a foam roller, which acts as a deep muscle massager. By rolling out specific areas on your body, you get a more targeted massage to the muscles that might need it the most after your time in the pool. Foam rollers aren't expensive and there are other types of muscle massagers on the market – or check with your pool on what they have available for your. Most pools and sports clubs will have at least the basics for foam rolling you back and legs.
No matter how you stretch, it's vital to preventing and healing muscle injury, and for muscle retention.
Listen To Your Body
Perhaps the most important thing of all is to listen to your body. If you're feeling especially worn down one day, know when to take a break and rest.
Your body performs at its best when it's in sync and feeling energized.
Allowing yourself to recharge will help hit the reset button on your mind and body, which will ultimately result in a better workout the following day.