Most high-level competitors know now to listen to their body and so should you. With more and more research being published, people are beginning to give the ‘train smarter, not harder’ theory a shot. This article talks about the ways and practices to recover for Muay Thai fighters.
Many say there is no such thing as over-training, only under-recovery.
Getting enough rest and recovery is paramount if you want to fulfill your athletic potential. Training for 3 hours, 2 times a day, 6 days a week, simply isn’t practical for most people, especially those who haven’t been conditioned to this volume of training from a young age. With that being said, to be the best at anything you have to put in hours upon hours of work in the gym.
5 Easiest and Most Effective Ways To Recover for Muay Thai.
1. Sleep quality
Getting a good quality sleep is essential for fully recovering from your workouts. Rest is when the body repairs itself and replenishes energy stores.
Designing a night-time routine can set you up for a great night sleep. Think about it, how much effort do you put into your workouts or Muay Thai fight? Hours of research, experimenting with new ideas, buying new products that may enhance your performance. Some people even pay for a coach. What if you put this amount of time and attention into your sleep?
Imagine waking up and jumping out of bed every morning, happy and full of energy. What impact would this have on your day?
Before bed, you need to bring the day to a close and get into a calm mindset. Here are some ideas on how you can adapt your own pre-sleep routine:
1. Take a hot bath or shower
Soaking it up in the tub is great for relieving the tension in your muscles that you’ve built up during the weeks’ training sessions. After you get out of your bath, your body temperature drops and your brain starts to produce the hormone melatonin. Which makes you feel sleepy. This isn’t just a myth, it really works, give it a try.
2. Swap your phone for a book
The bright LED lights of our smartphones affect our body clock and are really the last thing we need before trying to get to sleep. This is called blue light and it affects our natural sleeping pattern by tricking our brain into thinking that it is still daytime.
Have you ever been on your phone and then went straight to bed, shut your eyes and see bright colours behind your eyelids? I don’t know exactly what this is, but it ain’t good. Swap the phone for a book. Reading gets your tired while taking your mind of stray thoughts that may get your distracted and keep you up later.
3. Review the day
Taking 10 minutes to go over the day’s events is the perfect way to avoid the random thoughts that flood your mind once your head hits the pillow. Get a diary or a journal and ask yourself: what went well today and what didn’t? Why? What tasks got done? What needs to be done tomorrow?
Writing this down gets it out your head. However, it stays on paper so that you wake up with a reminder of what needs to be done for the day.
2. Refuel better
Eating for recovery sounds like a no-brainer. Well, it is. You need to get enough calories and enough nutrients for your body to fully adapt to the changes you made at training.
While It is important to have a healthy meal after the gym. It is even more important to continue the healthiness into the rest of the day/week while your muscles recover.
It is easy to overcomplicate meals. Making sure you get your macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbs) for the day is the easiest way to structure your meals.
Having a few go-to meals can be a lifesaver if you are exhausted after a long day and just want to chill. Also, try to prepare all meals at the start of the week. This will save time even more and give ability to eat while on the go.
Other ways you can boost your recovery with nutrition is by making sure you have enough micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals). These are best obtained through real foods.
However, it can be difficult to find certain foods, not to mention they can be pretty expensive. To save time and money, the next best thing is supplementing what you can’t get through food.
Top 5 supplements for Muay Thai fighters
- Protein powder
- Cod liver oil
4. Active Recovery
Remember, the body is designed to be moving and not lazing horizontally for 16 hours.
A light workout on your rest day will increase blood flow to the fatigued muscles, promoting faster healing and reducing DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness). Active recovery days will also elevate your mood and psychological well-being. Also, they are useful for avoiding your favourite cheat meal you shouldn’t be having if you’re cutting weight or just trying to eat a bit healthier. Keeping active promotes healthy eating habits.
Active recovery doesn’t need to be sitting on the recumbent bike with the old ladies. It can be something as simple as taking the dog a walk or playing outside with your kids.
Here are some more ideas for active recovery days:
- Go a cycle
- Foam rolling
- Light cardio
- Light shadow boxing/practicing new techniques
- Resistance work (30% 1rm – 20 reps)
5. Reduce Stress
“Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone expresses stress from time to time. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new diagnosis, war, or the death of a loved one can trigger stress.”
Athletes know better than anyone that if you are stressed, you won’t perform optimally. If you train while stressed, it’s going to have a big impact on your recovery as well as what you get out of the Muay Thai workout physically. Ultimately, this affects your performance on Muay Thai fight night.
Stress will keep you up at night over-thinking, make your muscles tense, sabotage your concentration and just waste your energy in general. When it comes to exercise recovery, stress doesn’t help much either. You are quite lucky to have picked a sport that involves kicking things as hard as you can for several hours a week. So, your stress levels may already be low compared to the average person. However, it can still happen to anyone and it is important that you learn to manage it before it gets worse.
Meditating can be extremely useful for overcoming stress and anxiety. Sounds a bit fruity, yes. But it works.
Meditation has been around for thousands of years and is practiced by people all over the world. All it takes is some persistence and patience.
Try downloading the Headspace app for Andriod or app for iPhone. It’s a great introduction to what meditating is and how to start. As I said before, It takes some practice but it’s a useful skill to have, especially as a martial artist.
6. Stated Hydrated
Water plays a huge role in the process of exercise recovery. After all, 75% of our muscles are made of it. So, why is it so important? Well, it is essential to regulate your body temperature, maintain blood volume and allow muscle contractions.
One of the side effects of training Muay Thai is that we tend to sweat, a lot. The amount of water we need is completely dependent person to person and a lot of aspects come into play.
Check out what Nancy Clark wrote in her Nutritional Guidebook:
“After you exercise, your goal is to fully replace any fluid and electrolyte deficit. How aggressively you rehydrate depends on how quickly you need to recover before your next exercise session and how big a fluid-electrolyte deficit you incurred. Most active people can recover with normal meals (that contain a little sodium) and plain water. If you are significantly dehydrated and need to exercise again within 12 hours, then you need to be more aggressive with your rehydration program and sprinkle extra salt on your food if you had high sodium losses through sweat.”
For many of you, the latter will apply. Sometimes training again in under 12 hours. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water though-out and after training and adding salt to your food when you can.
To sum up, all these points revolve around taking care of yourself. If you are healthy and well nourished, your body can do it’s job properly by recovering the damage done as quick as possible.
Healthy lifestyle choices may be a hassle and not give instant gratification, but they’re always worth it down the line.