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Tradies National Health Month

How to promote recovery after physical activity

by | Aug 23, 2022 | Lifestyle

In August, we recognise and appreciate hardworking Aussies, with Tradies National Health Month 2022.

This initiative from the Australian Physiotherapist Association (APA) highlights the importance of recovery after a physically demanding job or tough workout.

Injury, immobility or any limitation in physical health can also negatively impact mental health, so it’s vital to alleviate sore muscles through proper recovery methods. Although research suggests that many tradies take better care of their tools than their bodies, greater emphasis needs to be placed on muscle recovery and overall wellbeing.

A study conducted by the APA revealed that 88% of tradies will make an increased effort to take care of their tools, while only 60% say that they care for their own physical and mental health.

Tradies National Health Month is an awareness initiative that focuses on the importance of both physical and mental health of tradies in Australia. Whether your job is physically demanding or an intense workout is part pf your daily routine, we’re here to give you some tips on how to improve recovery, while taking care of your health and wellbeing.

Promoting recovery after physical activity

Benefits of a consistent fitness routine or physical activity

When it comes to your overall health, there is undeniable evidence that shows a good workout routine delivers many health benefits. Regular exercise can assist in maintaining a healthy body weight and also improves circulation and elevates immune function.

As we look into the inner workings of the human body and how exercise impacts our overall functioning, we discover a number of advantages that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Each day, for instance, the body produces metabolic waste, caused by general day to day activity. If this waste is not excreted from the body, it becomes toxic. Excretion generally occurs through urination or perspiration. Due to the fact that hard workout results in increased sweating (or perspiration), exercise assists in removing metabolic waste, promoting healthy functioning of the central nervous system.

While there are a variety of benefits associated with physical activity, the building blocks of any new regime comes in understanding your fitness level and whether light exercise or a tough workout is most suited to your abilities.

Benefits of physical activity

Active recovery vs. Passive recovery

Your post workout routine should always be tailored to your individual needs and should be adapted if your circumstances or abilities change.

In many cases, active recovery is often recommended for people engaging in any form of high intensity workout. Active muscle recovery involves low intensity exercise, directly following your workout.

The purpose of active recovery is to allow your muscles to gradually come to a state of rest, which can often be beneficial in minimising muscle soreness. Low intensity exercise often includes yoga, walking and swimming.

On the opposite end of the muscle recovery scale, we find passive recovery. Although passive is often thought to be a less common technique than active, it plays an equally important role in exercise recovery.

Regardless of whether you engage in cardo routines or weight training exercises, you may find yourself needing to incorporate passive recovery into your regime. Passive recovery days involve keeping your body at a complete state of rest, for effectively healing muscles and nurturing injuries.

If you are unsure which method is right for you, an exercise physiologist or healthcare professional can provide guidance to optimise muscle recovery.

Passive recovery

Resistance training

Commonly known as strength building, resistance training works to reduce the affect of muscle contraction, while increasing the size of skeletal muscles and improving anaerobic endurance. Unlike cardio focused exercise, resistance training incorporates the use of weights, either using your own body weight as a force of resistance, handheld weights or resistance bands.

Many people who commence resistance training experience severe muscle soreness, making active recovery an effective solution for continued blood flow, allowing muscles to recover and rebuild during a post workout cool down session.

Exercise recovery is crucial for anyone participating in either a strenuous workout routine or a job that demands physical labour.

Endurance exercise

If intense exercise isn’t right for you, endurance exercise may be what you’re looking for. Unlike other forms of extreme exercise, an endurance workout routine focuses on maintaining a steady pace. The most common forms of endurance exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Dancing

This type of workout improves cardiac health, increases blood flow and assists in lowering blood pressure. In many cases, an endurance exercise session is ideal for gradually building muscle strength and often allows someone to recover faster, due to the continued pace throughout the activity.

When participating in an endurance based activity, it is a good idea to engage in passive muscle recovery, where you may continue the same activity, but at a slower pace, ensuring that your body gradually reaches a state of rest.

Including different muscle groups in your workout routine

If your goal is to achieve muscle growth in various areas of your body, it may be worth considering a change of routine for your next workout. When we perform any type of repetitive physical activity, our bodies and muscles become complacent with this specific type of exertion.

In order to build muscle mass, your exercise routine should involve the inclusion of different muscle groups. When focusing on specific areas of the body, it’s crucial that you allow adequate muscle recovery time, before once again returning to condition this area of the body.

Muscle groups

Understanding strength recovery and muscle repair

Once you’ve reached the post workout stage, you must always consider whether a passive recovery or active recovery method is best suited to your physical state. While an active recovery involves light exercise, the passive recovery process embodies a state of complete rest and is recommended for people with injuries who may be focused on muscle damage or tissue repair.

Much focus is often placed on workout recovery, but it’s also important to remember that stretching and warming up are crucial for reducing muscle soreness from exertion. In a recent statement, Phil Calvert, APA National President, stated:

“Tradies are at particular risk of a range of injuries as a result of the intensity and repetitive nature of their work, so it’s important that they put these preventive health measures in place”

Stretching

Techniques to prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness

If you’re finding that your post workout routine simply isn’t cutting it, there are a number of alternatives and complementary techniques that may also assist strength recovery and tissue repair, such as:

  • Drinking plenty of water

  • Getting a good nights sleep

  • Remedial massage

  • Contrast water therapy

  • Cold water immersion

  • Increasing the number of rest days

  • Eating foods that boost immune function

  • Foam rolling (as guided by your physician)

Some people may experience increased inflammation or severe muscle soreness following a workout or physically demanding job. Reduced inflammation of muscles can often be achieved through adequate rest, however if you have any concerns you may wish to discuss possible solutions to the problem, such as physiotherapy, healthy lifestyle changes or anti inflammatory medications.

Compression garments

In addition to our top recommendations for injury prevention and enhanced recovery, compression garments have been identifies as a highly effective means for repairing damaged muscles.

According to a recent study by The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the recovery process may be enhanced through the use of custom fitted compression garments. The study focused on assessing the effectiveness of compression garments in athletes, who experienced damaged muscles as a result of their physical activity. Results revealed that muscle repair was achieved with greater efficiency in those who used customised compression garments.

Delayed onset muscle soreness

Muscle soreness is a very normal part of any form of physically demanding exercise. While you may experience some uncomfortableness during the workout itself, many people experience the most severe amount of pain throughout the following days – commonly known as delayed onset muscle soreness. This condition occurs due to microscopic muscle damage and is primarily noticeable when you try a new type of labour or exercise, one to which your body is unaccustomed.

How much rest should you take before your next workout?

The amount of rest and recovery time your body requires will vary greatly between each individual. This timeframe is affected by your fitness level, injuries and any changes to your usual workout routine.

You may find that your muscles recover faster once your body has adapted to a new exercise routine or change in job, allowing you to have fewer rest days between your next activity. If you find that this is the case for you, remember to stay vigilant and listen to any changes from your body, to reduce the risk of injury or overexertion.

If you experience any unexpected or prolonged pain, always consult with your doctor about your next step for muscle recovery.

Negative impact of skipping the post workout recovery process

Nurturing your body after physical exertion is critical to promoting positive health and wellbeing. Whether you choose to massage and stretch by foam rolling, focus on boosting your post workout nutrition or require a passive recovery method, it’s important to always listen to your body post workout.

Poor sleep

If you choose to skip your usual workout recovery process, you may be setting yourself up for poor sleep and restless nights, as a result of muscle cramping or spasms. Getting an adequate amount of sleep between workouts allows muscle tissue to heal more effectively and can also act as a form of passive recovery, following your active recovery routine immediately after exercise.

Elevated stress levels

Physical injury caused by muscle damage can lead to temporary immobility and, as a result, the inability to engage in your regular routine. This rapid change to the way you live also has the power to negatively impact your mental health, by increasing stress levels and anxiety.

Adequate sleep

We’re here to help

Muscle pain is completely normal after exercise and labour, but it should always be nurtured and not ignored. By practicing preventative techniques prior to work, followed by methods of muscle recovery at the end of the day, you’re taking steps to a healthier future.

If you’re concerned that muscle pain may be affecting other areas of your physical or mental health, start a conversation to discover techniques and treatments that can assist you in living your best life.

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