Training for a triathlon, or competing in one, is extremely physically and mentally demanding. It is essential that during training or after completing a triathlon you spend time helping your muscles to relax and recover to prevent discomfort or injury. Luckily, most of the things that help to relax your muscles are also great for helping the mind to unwind. Here are 5 simple things you can do to help your muscles to relax and to keep yourself healthy!
Although you won’t want to be spending hours in the kitchen after competing or training, it is important to cook a high protein meal. Consuming protein in the post-exercise recovery period can optimise the body’s natural ability to help muscle recovery, according to van Vliet et al.
A quick and easy high-protein meal would be a chicken and chorizo tray bake with roasted potatoes and vegetables. All you need to do is place whole chicken breasts or thighs onto a tray with chorizo, potatoes and your choice of vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil and season with your favourite herbs and spices. For a vegan option, replace the meat with tofu and chickpeas. Cook at 350 degrees for around 25-30 minutes and simply dish up. It takes five minutes to prep, giving you plenty of time to rest while it's cooking. The best bit of all is that you only need a chopping board, tray, plate and cutlery, meaning you will have next to no washing up!
Drinking water before and during exercise is important, but even more so afterwards. You need to replenish your fluids that have been lost during exercise in order to allow your body to transport essential nutrients around the body to aid recovery.
Throughout the day after finishing your training or event, make sure you are drinking plenty of water. As tempting as it might be to treat yourself to a celebratory alcoholic drink, try to keep this to a minimum in order to help your body to recover properly. If you do have an alcoholic beverage, drink a glass of water straight down after you have finished.
Having a good stretch after your exercise is key in helping to break down the build up of lactic acid and to facilitate general recovery. Thankfully, this can also help to relieve soreness the following day!
While your traybake is cooking, spend 15 minutes having a good full body stretch. There are some great guided stretching videos on YouTube if you are looking for inspiration. Taking a short amount of time to work on your muscles will make you much more likely to recover quickly.
Once you’ve eaten and had a good stretch, it’s time to treat yourself to a hot bath. Run your bath and add your favourite bubble bath. Hot baths are great for circulation and muscle relaxation. Some people believe that adding Epsom salts can be great for muscle recovery, so it might be worth giving it a go. I like to add a eucalyptus scent as this helps me to fully relax. Lighting a few candles won’t do any harm, either! Or, for faster muscle recovery (but a less relaxing vibe) try an ice bath.
Finally, after your relaxing bath, try to have an early night. Having a good night’s sleep will give your body the ultimate opportunity to recover and restore the body’s energy stores. Get into bed and read your favourite book and then try to head off to sleep. You probably won’t need much assistance after a long day of competing or training, but having a quick read will give you one last opportunity to fully relax before bed.
So, there you have it! A few simple ways to support your muscle recovery. You might not feel up to doing a few of these things, but making the effort to cook something healthy or having a hot bath will make you feel so much better the next day, whilst also preventing injury most importantly. This will also give you a great excuse to have a well earned relaxed evening!
Daisy Moss is a freelance writer specialising in fitness and nutrition. She enjoys researching the best ways to support her fitness and is currently exploring the benefits of zinc supplements on focus and productivity. When she isn’t exercising you will probably find her attempting to bake, and failing!