Weekend Warriors: Don’t Become Weekend Wounded

You enjoyed your long run Saturday, but it’s been four days, and you still feel sore and tired. As the saying goes, there’s no gain without pain, so you should still fit in a workout, right?

Well, no. No matter your sport, chronic fatigue and soreness are signs that your body needs a break. When you exercise, you break down muscle tissue, which can only rebuild with downtime. Sore muscles are muscles that haven’t rested enough to recover — pushing through the pain increases the risk of injury.

Instead of forcing your body to perform, do everything possible to help your muscles recover. The faster you recover, the more miles, laps, rounds and innings you’ll be able to complete. Here are some tips that can help you improve your recovery time after workouts:

* Pay attention to what and when you’re eating. You can’t fuel workouts without, well, food. Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy, so it’s important to consume them prior to and, in some cases, during, exercise. After exercise, you need to consume easily digested carbohydrates to restore your muscles’ glycogen levels and a protein to jump-start repair. You don’t need expensive protein powders or bars — a fruit smoothie made with milk or yogurt will accomplish just as much as a supplement. And don’t forget to drink water before, during and after exercise.

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* Have a sports massage. Massage increases circulation, which helps muscles recover faster. A short, stimulating massage before an event may improve performance, while a massage within an hour of a workout can help normalize body tissues. Restorative sports massages help prevent injuries during training, and rehabilitative sports massage can relieve pain if injuries occur. Athletes in training should aim to get a sports massage at least once a month. Look for massage franchises, such as Massage Envy, which can offer affordable pricing and convenient locations.

* Take a break. It’s okay to push yourself — that’s how you improve. But the greater the frequency and intensity of your exercise, the more likely you are to sustain serious injury. Take care to structure rest days into your exercise schedule, and don’t increase your exercise by more that 10 percent a week. Try too much too soon, and you can find yourself sidelined for months.