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Proper Exercise Practice and Recovery for Prolonged Muscle Fatigue

Muscle fatigue is a natural occurrence when training the muscles and is caused by the energy exchange system used to fuel the training routine. Muscle contraction and release requires considerable amounts of energy and when stores are depleted, which must happen in order to build greater stores and more powerful muscles, fatigue and muscle exhaustion cause the muscles to ache.

While this is a normal part of the training process, it is essential that the athlete understand what is at work and how they can finetune their exercise practices. This allows the muscles to accomplish more with less energy, effectively prolonging the point of total energy depletion and the muscle fatigue that ensues.

What Causes Prolonged Muscle Fatigue?

Medical science has studied the dynamics of muscle action and energy expenditure to great lengths. We now understand that fatigue is a condition in the muscle that presents itself when certain natural chemicals are depleted, or others have accumulated.

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-Glycogen Depletion

Your body needs fuel to perform the various feats of strength and endurance you hope to achieve. When you eat and assimilate energy from your foods, carbohydrates are transformed into a usable energy called glycogen. Once the muscles have exhausted their supplies of glycogen they have no energy and the effects of fatigue will be felt. High-intensity exercise deplete energy supplies quickly, and often a sugary sports drink can help the athlete restore glycogen levels in their muscles. But, low-intensity and intermittent exercise preserve these supplies indefinitely as we see in long distance sports.  

–Decreased Creatine Phosphate

Creatine Phosphate has an important role to play in optimal muscle contractions that are an essential part of any workout program. Muscle contractions are regulated and fueled by the potent molecule ATP and when the levels of ATP fall below 70% (the level in rested muscles) energy to contract begins to diminish and fatigue can strike hard. Creatine Phosphate keeps the ATP levels from dipping below the 70% mark, thus improving the energy supply to each contraction.

— Temperature and Dehydration

The body at work is consuming energy for a wide variety of tasks. It is keeping the body cool, fueling neural networks and many more functions too numerous to mention. Water is essential to all of these functions and a body that has not been properly hydrated is like a car running with no radiator. In the hot sun neither the dehydrated athlete nor the car with no radiator will get far. Keeping hydrated and cool are, therefore, essential to prolonging the onset of fatigue and keeping the muscles from wearing out.

— Lactic Acid, Hydrogen Ions and Fatigue

Lactic acid is a term that many people throw around when they make reference to muscle fatigue and an athletes capacity to make progress despite fatigue. But, actually lactic acid is important to fueling the muscles once oxygen levels are pinched due to an overactive circulatory system. This is when the bodies shift from aerobic metabolism to anaerobic metabolism, meaning that they metabolize carbohydrates without oxygen to produce energy, which is what produces pyruvate which converts to lactic acid.

Lactic acid can be converted into lactate, which is another form of fuel for the muscles, but in this conversion hydrogen ions are released into the muscles, effectively increasing their acidity levels and this, not Lactic Acid directly, is what causes the sensations of fatigue.

Recovery for Prolonged Muscle Fatigue

When muscles are pushed to the point of fatigue, they must be allowed to properly recover before exercise routines can resume. Different types of training and levels of exhaustion will require appropriate recovery periods to allow the muscle to be in the proper form for a progressive exercise routine. This may be anywhere from a standard day for high-intensity muscle training to a couple of weeks after a triathlon. The strength and endurance of the individual will also affect how much recovery the individual needs.

Following are some practices that can be applied to enhancing the efficacy of your recovery for prolonged muscle fatigue.

— Post Workout Stretch

Many people have the misconception that stretching is done before the workout. Today we know that a warm up routine before workout and a stretching routine after works best to keep the muscles in excellent working conditions. Move slowly in your stretch and allow the blood flow to each muscle to be optimized. Hold each stretch for a full 30-seconds while breathing deeply. This action allows the body to release all the chemicals and compounds at work in the body during exercise.

— Massage Therapy

Having your sore muscles massaged after a strenuous workout is another great way to improve the circulation and accelerate the rate at which acidity levels are restored and recovery enhanced. You can choose from the many varieties of sports massage typically applied including compression therapy, cross-fiber friction and trigger-point therapy. Each of these has been found to improve the flow of blood to the muscles, improve recovery and relieve fatigue in the best way.

–Hot and Cold Therapy

Ice and heat therapy can be used to address the inflation and soothe tired fatigued muscles. Some experts recommend ice on the first couple of days after an intense training and then heat after this once the inflammation has been relieved.

— Eat a Good Meal

After a strenuous workout your body will be lacking many nutrients and necessary fuels to properly address the recovery. You need to refuel with some of the best proteins, carbs, vitamins and minerals you can find. Choose proteins from the legume or dairy section as well as a healthy cut of meat as well. These provide essential amino acids the body can’t produce for itself and reduce the chances of muscle breakdown.

Muscle fatigue is one of the toughest hurdles for the up-and-coming athlete to face in their path to progress. By learning the dynamics that lead to the condition it is possible to gradually begin to improve your resistance. But, expect that it will always be a part of your athletic life and never forget the importance of allowing your body to recover from the ordeal.

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