Did you know that recovery is just as important as training when it comes to optimising results and getting the most out of the hard yards you are putting in at the gym, on the training track or wherever your work is being done?

In this blog series, we’ll be covering what we see as FIVE key elements of recovery

One of the most common questions we get as physios is about stretching and foam rolling. Which is better and when should we perform these activities in relation to our workout? Evidence shows the best results come when we do both in conjunction with one another. The key is how we do it and when.

Before a workout: mobility and movement

There are two main types of stretching: static and dynamic. A static stretch is when you take a muscle to a lengthened position (and you feel that stretch sensation) and you hold it there for a period of time. A dynamic stretch is when you take your muscles and joints through range in a continuous motion, gently moving each joint to the end of range and back again several times in an oscillating fashion.

To warm up we recommend dynamic warmups – that is dynamic stretching through movement. This allows our joints and muscles to move through range without any load, which is the perfect way to ease into a vigorous session. Example of this include exercises like leg swings, windmills, high knee jogging, heel to bottom taps and skaters. Essentially, anything that gets your moving through nice big ranges of motion.

After you’ve sweated: roll it out and have a light stretch

For recovery after exercise foam rolling can be beneficial to temporarily improve and increase joint range of motion, improve motor control, reduce pain and improve the mobility of the fascia surrounding the muscles. This allows for better movement quality, return to normal movement and optimal loading for recovery of our muscle and connective tissue following a workout. As a general guide, no more than two minutes on any muscle group is necessary to get a good effect.

Static stretching can also be performed after exercise and should always be within the levels of comfort, you should feel a stretch but not pain. We recommend holding a stretch for between 30 and 60 seconds and repeating 2-3 times.

Remember, recover like a pro and you’ll be all set to go for your next session!

Katie Jeffrey (previously Katie Wiltshire)

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