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As a fighter, you know how important it is to properly train and stay healthy for an upcoming match. You put your heart and soul into the right kind of training. That includes spending hours in the gym, working with a trainer, and taking care of your body along the way so you can be in peak physical condition.
But, after just a few minutes in the cage, your body can start to break down. There’s a reason fights can’t go past 5 rounds.
It’s no secret that MMA fighters are prone to injuries. One study found that nearly 60% of MMA fighters get injured during their fights.
You’ve already put in the hard work ahead of time in training for your big event. But, it’s just as important to put in the work after a big fight or training session to recover the right way. Taking care of your body after a major fight will help you to bounce back faster and can increase the longevity of your career.
With that, let’s cover three post-fight recovery tips you should put into practice after your next bout.
Think about how important your diet was when you were training for your fight. When you consider that an average training session can burn 900-1000 calories an hour, keeping your body properly fueled for performance is key.
Knowing how to fuel your body after a big fight is just as important. As soon as you can after the event, have some quick carbs and protein. That will help to jumpstart the recovery process and give you some much-needed energy.
In the days following your fight, your diet should consist of nutrients designed to restore your depleted muscles and electrolytes. Make sure it’s filled with things like:
- Lean proteins (grilled chicken, eggs, lean beef)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, nuts, and seeds)
- Carbohydrates (Whole wheat bread, pasta, oats)
- Sports drinks to replace sugars and electrolytes
You can also use supplements like protein shakes as part of your diet to speed up the healing process. Adding ingredients such as peanut butter and bananas can help to improve your stamina when you’re training or fighting. You can also improve your endurance through your recovery diet so you can get better with each fight.
There is, perhaps, nothing more important than sleep after an exhausting fight. If you want to keep your mind and body healthy, sleep should be a top priority. Incredible things happen to your body when you sleep, including:
- Your sympathetic nervous system calms down
- Your cortisol levels lower
- Your muscles repair themselves
- Your immune system gets stronger
If you don’t get enough sleep, not only will your body not repair as quickly but you’ll be more susceptible to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and mental health conditions.
Make sure you’re practicing healthy sleep habits that work with your natural circadian rhythm. Try to go to bed at the same time each night, especially in the days and weeks following a fight. Develop a “nighttime routine” that will get your mind and body fully prepared for sleep, and aim to get at least 7 hours each night.
If you have trouble falling asleep, try to cut off your electronic device use at least an hour before bed. Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, and make sure your bedroom is an ideal environment for sleeping. It shouldn’t be cluttered and distracting, or that could cause your mind to wander at night rather than letting you fall asleep peacefully.
You don’t have to go through the recovery process on your own. One of the best things you can do is to work with a trainer or even an exercise physiologist to repair and rehabilitate your body after an intense fight – especially if you suffered from an injury.
Exercise physiologists are responsible for analyzing your medical history, measuring your vital signs, and educating you on how to perform exercises safely for your recovery. Sometimes, the simplest exercises can “hit differently” when you’re doing them under the eyes of a professional. Never underestimate the power of simple stretches and exercises that look easy. When you’re in recovery mode, it’s often the simplest of exercises that can have the biggest impact on your body’s repair process.
You might also benefit from seeing a massage therapist or using equipment like a massage gun to ease muscle tension. You already know that muscle tension can last for weeks after a fight or training session. Finding ways to ease that tension will make you feel better throughout the recovery process and get you back to training faster.
Obviously, there are plenty of other steps you can take to make the most of your recovery and get back in action quickly. But, keep these post-fight recovery tips in mind after your next bout, and you might find the days that follow to be easier and less painful than before.
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