When we perform a physical activity, the benefits of exercise are obtained during the recovery period. This characterizes the post-activity period as of fundamental importance to the objectives of the program. Until very recently all the emphasis of the evolution of the sports sciences was directed to perfecting the training programs. Scientific progress in this area has taken place in an accelerated fashion, contributing to the enormous evolution of sporting performance, to the point of becoming more and more frequent the questioning about the limits of the body.
Currently there is a new area that beckons with perspectives of great innovation and very interesting possibilities in the contribution of the exercise to performance and health. It is exactly the science of post-activity recovery.
Current scientific knowledge teaches that there are two important mechanisms that develop during recovery.
Once the exercise ends the muscles have an immediate need to replenish the energy reserves used during the performed activity. This replacement is translated by a mechanism of resynthesis of the used fuel represented by muscular glycogen. To replenish glycogen, muscles require two basic conditions: rest and nutrients. The required nutrients are carbohydrate sources, which must be delivered immediately after the activity ends. This immediate supply of glucose ensures a faster glycogen replenishment and speeds up the recovery period. According to recent scientific studies the recommendation is to consume 1gram per pound of body weight of carbohydrates during the first thirty minutes of recovery.
The second mechanism of recovery is the repair of tissue damage. This is the process of remodeling the muscles as a result of exercise stimulation. Physical activity promotes a “tissue damage” that is repaired by an inflammatory process, reshaping the muscles’ ultrastructure. During this period, the important nutrient is protein. Again the combination of rest and nutrients is that will meet the need for recovery. Here too, the first few minutes of recovery are important and the intake of 0.25 grams per pound of protein weight provides a faster recovery.
Certainly, new scientific knowledge will emerge and more information will be added to help the benefits of exercise be enhanced. The area of “recovery science” must certainly be one of the most fertile fields for foreground.