The problem with athletes who have crossed the line into their 40’s is that, in many ways, they are still mentally 20 years old. Assuming they can bounce back after a particularly difficult workout, they often go straight from the gym to the shower to the car and skip any kind of post-workout routine that does not involve ibuprofen and “dealing with it”. However, if you plan on staying active into your 70’s and beyond, it is important to begin to develop a post-workout routine that incorporates these things.
When we say stretching, we are not talking about a few half-hearted hamstring stretches and a calf stretch, we are talking about a thorough cool-down dynamic stretching routine. Taking a yoga class or two to become familiar with vinyasa flow, a style that focuses on moving the body along with the breath. This gentle form of yoga not only stretches the muscles, the breathing techniques properly oxygenates them as well, leaving you more relaxed, more flexible and on your way to recovery. While it is not necessary to take an hour-long class after a workout, familiarizing yourself with certain sequences allows you to perform them as a part of your cool-down routine.
Vigorous exercise results in microscopic tears to the muscle that stimulates healing and increased muscle strength. While this process happens rapidly and without significant pain in your 20’s, the process is much slower after 40. Like it or not, ice is one of your best friends. Ice reduces pain and inflammation without the side effects of prolonged ibuprofen use and stimulates the types of muscle healing that result in increased strength.
Nutrition plays a vital role in athletic performance throughout our lives, but post-recovery nutrition is especially important after 40. As we age, hormonal changes cause our metabolism to slow down resulting in weight gain, changes in appetite and more digestive troubles. Additionally, athletes over 40, especially runners, need around 35 to 40 grams of high-quality protein compared to the 20 grams needed by their younger counterparts. Instead of getting your electrolytes and protein from a pepperoni pizza, opt for 5 ounces of grilled chicken or a good quality whey protein mixed with a fruit smoothie.
Take a Nap
A cliche as it sounds to have the “old guy” nodding off, sleep is essential for the most basic systems of the body. A lack of sleep can be potentially harmful not only when you fall asleep behind the wheel, but to your eating patterns, blood pressure and ability to recover from exercise. Catching a few Z’s will not only help you recover faster, it will also combat stress hormones and a loss of testosterone that often accompany sleep deprivation.
Even if you have tried chiropractic care in the past for muscle recovery, today’s chiropractic care is a completely different animal. Armed with technological advances, today’s chiropractors go beyond twisting, cracking and popping into low-force, targeted adjustments coupled with state-of-the-art muscle recovery therapies. From cryogenics to electrical stimulation, drug-free recovery after a workout has never been more exciting or accessible.
Just because you’re nearing middle age doesn’t mean you are past your prime. A few changes to your post-workout recovery routine will have you lapping the young guys in no time.