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Sports performance & exercise recovery

Date: 28-03-2022

Written by Samuel Peters BHSc (Naturopathy)


Tips to Improve Exercise Recovery 

Implementing a new exercise or workout routine is an invaluable step towards improving your health. Although the benefits of exercise are incomparable, any new increase in physical activity can bring along some unwanted side effects. This can include sore and aching muscles, painful joints and increased fatigue. Although undesirable, these effects are a normal reaction within your body and usually lessen over time as your body and muscles adjust. Although these effects are common, there are proven ways to help aid your recovery from exercise and improve overall performance.  

Magnesium for reducing muscle pain   

Muscle pain and soreness after exercise are normal, especially with weight training. When our muscles are required to work harder or are used in a different way, microscopic damage to the muscle fibres occur, resulting in soreness and stiffness until they repair. Magnesium plays a critical role in healthy muscle function and helps regulate muscle contractions. Magnesium has been shown to significantly reduce muscle soreness, perceived exertion and improve recovery after exercise, with some evidence suggesting a positive impact on performance as well.  

Curcumin for delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) 

Curcumin can be utilised for its anti-inflammatory benefits during the recovery process. Studies have found that curcumin can reduce symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which is associated with muscle pain, decreased range of motion, decreased strength and acute tissue damage, all of which can lead to performance impairment or predispose the individual to injuries. High dose Curcumin supplements can be used after exercise to improve symptoms and decrease recovery time.  

Sleep support for improved recovery 

Sleep has a significant impact on muscle recovery through enhancing protein synthesis and the release of human growth hormone. This specific hormone works to stimulate tissue growth and muscle repair. Sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality has been shown to affect athletic performance because of slower muscle recovery, increased release of stress hormones and decreased glycogen synthesis (glycogen is a readily available energy source in the body.  
Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower), Humulus lupulus (Hops) and Valeriana officinalis (Valerian) have long been utilised for the treatment of nervous tension and sleep disorders. This herbal combination has been shown to significantly improve sleep quality.   

Protein for muscle repair  

Dietary protein is required to promote growth, repair damaged cells and tissues and synthesize hormones. Individuals who are engaged in intense training require more dietary protein than sedentary individuals. Protein ingestion or supplementation prior, during or post-exercise can enhance recovery, muscle growth and maintenance of lean body mass. Supplementation with a protein powder can serve as a convenient way to ensure timely or adequate intake.  

Reach out to your natural healthcare provider for advice on the best treatment for you and be sure to seek further advice if the symptoms do not dissipate.


References: 
1. Reno AM, Green M, Killen LG, O ľNeal EK, Pritchett K, Hanson Z. Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Muscle Soreness and Performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2020 Oct 1. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003827. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33009349.  AR et al. “Curcumin Improves Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and Postexercise Lactate Accumulation.” J Diet Suppl. 2020:1-12. 
2. Maroo N, Hazra A, Das T. Efficacy and safety of a polyherbal sedative-hypnotic formulation NSF-3 in primary insomnia in comparison to zolpidem: a randomised controlled trial. Indian J Pharmacol. 2013 Jan-Feb;45(1):34-9. doi: 10.4103/0253-7613.106432. PubMed PMID: 23543804 
3. Kreider RB, Campbell B. Protein for exercise and recovery. Phys Sportsmed. 2009 Jun;37(2):13-21. doi: 10.3810/psm.2009.06.1705. PMID: 20048505