Training is not always full speed ahead. Regeneration is a key factor in sports, which unfortunately often comes off badly. Injuries or fatigue are then consequences that quickly take the wind out of your sails again.
That is why the recovery phases are at least as important as the workout itself. During this phase, important processes take place in the body that enable you to perform even better in the next session.
Why is regeneration important?
During a fast run or a tough workout the following happens first: your muscle tissue gets small cracks. That doesn’t sound good, do you think? But it is. Because these micro-fissures allow your body to adapt to the strain. But that only works if you give it a chance to recover, to repair the damaged tissue and to rebuild cells during cell division.
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During the break, your body also refills its energy stores so that you can give full power again in the next session. But what many don’t know: taking a break doesn’t mean lazing on the couch and doing nothing. Sure – that has to be the case. But with active regeneration, i.e. a motion-rich break, as well as a few other building blocks such as sleep and a healthy diet, the body can regenerate much better.
What can I do to regenerate better?
Anything that’s good for you helps you after exercise. “After great efforts such as a competition, it is incredibly important to allow your body and mind to rest,” explains professional athlete Sara Dossena (34). The three-time Italian champion over various long distances knows what she is talking about. She recommends to listen to yourself: “What do I really need? How do I recover properly and what is good for me personally” are the questions she asks herself.
“Many beginners make the mistake of wanting to train as much as possible. I also made this mistake,” she says, “my body was tired and screamed loudly: Stop! But I ignored it and continued training.” What followed were muscular problems, injuries and pain. Since then, the Nike runner knows: Recovery is the key to success.
How does active recreation work?
There are several ways to actively promote your recovery. And yes, sometimes you can just lie around lazily. But first you should follow these tips.
1st Recovery Run: Running recovers the legs
It sounds strange, but a good rest for tired legs is: jogging. However, a very slow and non-demanding run is meant, where the muscles are not particularly stressed.
The small balls in the sole of the Nike Joyride cushion the pressure in just the right places. © PR
A particularly hot tip: to support athletes in active regeneration, sportswear manufacturer Nike has launched the running shoe Joyride: with small balls in the sole, the shoe adapts to every individual movement and cushions the pressure where it is needed most. The shoe is therefore a boon for stressed running legs.
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2. complementary sports support the recovery
Other sporting disciplines can also help with relaxation, but here too, of course, it is important not to work with ambition and full commitment, but with calm and gentleness. For many, yoga works well in this respect, and relaxed cycling is also a good balance.
Sara Dossena prefers to go to the swimming pool: Her personal recipe for regeneration are relaxed swimming sessions and the mentioned relaxed runs. This is the best way for her to switch off and let her thoughts flow. She advises beginners: “Find out what is good for you personally. Train hard, but consciously take time out to give your body and mind space to grow.
Adequate hydration helps your body transport nutrients to where they are needed. © Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com
3. healthy, balanced nutrition helps the body
A varied diet rich in vital substances provides your body with the energy it needs to rebuild the damaged muscle tissue. After intensive exercise, your body needs high-quality proteins to supply the muscles. If you sweat a lot, you should also replenish your mineral balance.
4. drinking a lot of water is more likely to make you fit again
Only with sufficient fluid can your body function properly and transport the important nutrients to where they are needed. At the same time, toxins and waste products are removed from the cells. So try to drink at least 2 to 2.5 litres of water and unsweetened tea on regeneration days. Of course: alcohol is a no-go. It cancels the positive training effect and slows down regeneration.
Fans of active regeneration: the top athletes Maria Vicente, Sara Dossena and Liv Westphal (from left to right) © PR
5. heat and cold push the cycle
Whether sauna or ice bath – heat and cold ensure that your muscles are better supplied with blood. Regular sauna sessions also relax the tissue, boosting your immune system and metabolism. They are pure wellness for your body. If you are not the sauna type: alternating showers have a similar positive effect.
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6. sufficient sleep makes regeneration complete
This is the part where you lie down. Allow yourself a restful and sufficiently long sleep phase, because during this time your body can fully concentrate on repairing itself.
But you shouldn’t just fall into bed exhausted, you should also actively optimize your sleep. To do this, turn off all disturbing influences: No cell phone in bed, no alarm clock, good ventilation. Your bed partner snores? Put something in your ears or put him out for the night.
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Active recreation through exercise promotes blood circulation. Therefore, on regeneration days not only feet up is on the agenda, but also alternative sports such as easy jogging, cycling and yoga. As long as you do not exhaust yourself, everything is allowed.