(Family Features) When it comes to creating a workout regimen, there are many resources with helpful tips covering everything from stretching to strength training. But what you do after your workout can make the difference in the way you feel and perform. A hard workout can leave your body depleted and running on empty. The correct post-workout nutrition can help replace what you've lost and help your body refuel for the next workout.
"Lowfat chocolate milk delivers the right mix of nutrients athletes need to recover after strenuous exercise so they can get the most out of their next workout," said sports dietitian Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD. "Its effectiveness lies in its high-quality protein and carbohydrates, to help repair and refuel muscles, and fluids and electrolytes to replenish what's lost in sweat. Chocolate milk is readily available, simple to grab-and-go, and tastes great. Hence, it is very popular with tired, hungry and thirsty athletes."
Refueling with chocolate milk can play an important role during an athlete's after-workout routine. It's simple, effective and scientifically shown to help the body recover after strenuous activity. A recent study published in the journal "Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise" suggests that runners who recover with chocolate milk gain a performance edge. The study found that recreational runners who drank fat-free chocolate milk following strenuous exercise ran 23 percent longer and had a 38 percent increase in markers of muscle building, compared to periods when they drank a carbohydrate-only sports beverage containing the same amount of calories.
In an effort to help educate athletes about proper recovery techniques, the REFUEL | got chocolate milk? campaign is heading to the Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Health and Fitness Expo, Marathon & Half Marathon from June 21 to June 22, 2012, to show runners that what they do after strenuous exercise can make a dramatic difference in how they feel and perform in their next race.
Runners attending the Seattle Health and Fitness Expo can audition for a chance to join Team REFUEL. If chosen to be a part of the team, athletes receive $500 in sponsorship, training gear and a chance to win a starring role in a "got chocolate milk?" ad, or an expense-paid trip to race at a Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in Europe.
The campaign is backed by some of the world's most successful athletes, including 2010 Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae, USA Basketball Men's National Team Member Carmelo Anthony, 12-time swimming medalist Dara Torres, as well as USA Swimming Trainer, Director of Aquatic Performance at the University of California, Berkeley, Nick Folker.
Post-Workout Active Recovery Techniques
In addition to recovery benefits from proper post-workout nutrition, an athlete's after-workout regimen should include active recovery techniques in the hours following intense exercise. Active recovery and rest days are linked to performance benefits. To help make your after routine more beneficial, Folker shares the following tips:
Cool down. To help your body bounce back, muscles must cool down. Light active recovery after a race will increase circulation and get your body back on track.
Stretch. Stretch directly after exercise (or after a foam roll session) while muscles are warm. Stretching increases blood flow to muscle fibers, stimulates recovery and helps prevent injury.
Massage. A massage helps release muscle tension and increases blood flow, which will help speed up the muscle repair process.
Foam Roll. Foam rollers are like a self-massage and easy to travel with to training or competition. Foam rolling uses deep compression to help roll out muscle adhesions that develop over time, helping restore the muscle to its original length. The compression causes your nerves to relax - a myofascial release - which loosens the muscle and increases blood flow, all of which help your body recover.
- Ice. Within two hours of a very strenuous workout, ice muscles to reduce post-workout inflammation and swelling and decrease muscle soreness.
For athletes who want to learn more about recovery techniques, www.GotChocolateMilk.com provides tips, videos and explains the science behind refueling post-workout. Athletes can exchange their after tips, as well as apply to join Team REFUEL for a chance to get sponsored and star in a "got chocolate milk?" ad. Check out www.Facebook.com/GotChocolateMilk and follow on Twitter via @GotChocoMilk for more insider tips.