Dedicated athletes train come rain, shine - or heatwave. Working out in the sun can be way more enjoyable than battling wet, challenging weather. But constant heat exposure coupled with intense exercise can cause your body temperature to climb - which can play havoc with your recovery. Here are our top tips for recovering like an athlete during the hot, summer months.
Ok, we know this is Hot Weather Advice 101, but drinking plenty of water is the only way to maintain performance in this heat. It’s also the easiest way to protect your body from injury and exhaustion. Afterall, you can’t reach your next PB if you’re passing out from heat stroke. Training in hot weather increases the thermal stress on your body - aka. makes you sweat a lot. When we sweat we lose body mass and even a 2% reduction can have a negative impact on your performance. Both your recovery and your progress will be faster if you make sure you’re getting enough fluids before, during and after your workout.
Why is hydration important for recovery?
During recovery, the muscles that have broken down whilst you were training rebuild using muscle protein synthesis. This process is key for your development as an athlete, but guess what? It doesn’t work as well if you’re dehydrated. But it’s not only your muscles that need to recover after a hot workout. Studies have shown that your heart rate returns to its pre workout level much faster if you drink fluids during and after intense exercise - which is especially important for endurance athletes.
Hydrate like an athlete
You should aim to drink 150% of the fluid weight you lost during exercise - so the actual amount will depend on how sweaty you get when you’re really pushing yourself. But going home and downing 8 pints of water straight away isn’t going to cut it. It will just result in less fluid being absorbed and more trips to the toilet. It’s better to keep a consistent level of hydration over a few hours following your workout.
Get some sleep
We all know what it’s like to spend a hot, summer night tossing and turning. The average adult needs 7-9 hours of quality to sleep to give the body and the mind the chance to relax and rebuild after the waking day. However, just as athletes need to eat more calories than someone who isn’t in training, they also require more sleep.Humans are built to sleep in cooler climates, and our body temperature naturally decreases come bedtime. When faced with soaring temperatures, it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure you can get the rest you need.
Why is sleep important for recovery?
We are huge advocates for the important role that sleep plays in recovery. Whilst you’re getting your shut eye, your body is busy rebuilding and rejuvenating . It does this by releasing Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Experts estimate that around 75% of HGH is released during sleep, so it makes sense that your physical recovery and progress will be impacted by sleep deprivation. Getting less than your recommended hours of sleep can also affect your overall performance. Reaction times will be down, fatigue will be up and your goals will be harder to achieve.
Sleep like an athlete
To optimise your sleep in hot weather, you’ve got to keep your bedroom as cool as possible. Sleep with the window open to allow ventilation and, if it’s really scorching, have a fan directly facing you. Not only will a fan maintain a comfortable temperature in the room but it will also encourage evaporative cooling, so any sweat you produce doesn’t sit on the skin, blocking your pores. Hydration is once again key for keeping your body temperature low, so make sure you have a cool drink before bed. You might also want to take a cold shower at the end of the day and some athletes even freeze a pillowcase ahead of time, so they have a night long cooling sensation whilst they sleep.
Invest in massage
Of course we couldn’t talk about recovery without talking about massage. Massage has untold benefits for both your recovery and your performance. Whilst sleep and hydration are essential, investing in a post-work out massage will elevate your recovery time to a whole new level. It can help increase range of motion and flexibility, reduce inflammation and pain, relax the body, and prevent injury - totally transforming the way you train.
Why is massage important for recovery?
When your core body temperature rises it triggers a rapid dispersion of blood into the capillaries of the skin - which is why a red face is the sign of a good workout. This is your body's attempt to cool you down, but in the process it reduces the amount of fluid and blood heading to your muscles. When your muscles require it the most, they are experiencing a lack of oxygen and nutrients. This reduces blood circulation to your tired muscles groups and also makes it harder for them to reduce waste products, like lactic acid. When these toxins build up you can feel sore and recovery can be slower - meaning your next workout could be even more challenging.
Massage like an athlete
You might think that professional athletes all depend on a team of sports massage experts to get them fighting fit and ready for their next performance. However, many are now taking restorative massage into their own hands with tech solutions like the MyoPro. This technology uses percussive massage to interject pain frequencies into the muscles - dramatically reducing soreness and DOMS so you can get off the sidelines and back in the game faster and stronger. It also increases blood circulation, your muscles can get more of the nutrients they need and get rid of the lactic acid build up that could hold you back next time you come to train.