Sleep for Athletes and Runners
Sleep is super important! Especially for athletes. It is when all the recovery takes place. Sleep enhances muscles recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release. REM sleep provides energy to the brain whereas non-REM sleep is essential for restoring the body. During non-REM sleep your brain is resting which means the blood supply available to your muscles increases, so therefore more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the muscles. Also during non-REM sleep growth hormone is secreted which stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair.
A lack of sleep also makes us more susceptible to illnesses, due to our immune system becoming weakened. If we are sleep deprived we produce less antibodies. There is a great book by Matthew Walker called ‘Why We Sleep’ if you’re interested in learning more about the importance of sleep.
Rest for Athletes and Runners
It is important for athletes to take rest days, again to let your body repair and grow stronger. Active recovery days and full proper rest days should be built into your training programme. A full rest day isn’t just allowing 36hrs rest between sessions, like training in the morning and then the following day training in the evening. A full rest day incorporates two nights of sleep. Everyone is different so do what your body needs and don’t just copy others. Listen to your body!
Hormones, work stresses, social events, eating badly etc can all have an effect on our energy levels, and coaches, for those who have one, can’t always be expected to know how we are feeling so athletes need to communicate with their coach or alter their own training program accordingly.
Massages for Athletes and Runners
Massages are another part of recovery. Ideally a weekly sports massage will keep you in good shape to perform well. Any muscles tightness can be released, otherwise you might start compensating for this which can result in a loss of performance or injury elsewhere. Massages can also help improve circulation and the removal of waste products from your muscles. Foam rollers and massage balls are great tools to have at home; try to get in the habit of using them daily, even if just for 5 minutes.
Compression gear, such as calf sleeves, are also useful for recovery; use after hard workouts to increase circulation and accelerate the removal of toxins.