Intense workouts can be great and grueling at the same time. If you are focused on keeping yourself in tip-top shape but need some quality aftercare, here are some activities to help you recover and be back in the gym the next morning. Or within the next few days. Working out is a great thing, but you don’t want to overdo things. Listen to your body as it will tell you if it needs a break. And here are five of the best ways to rest and recover between those intense gym sessions.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, your post-workout routine is as important as the exercise itself. Read up on these tips to soothe sore muscles after intense training to make sure you get the recovery you need to get the next workout you want.
It is paramount to stretch before and after workouts. This step prepares muscles before the fact and relaxes them after. Always take 10-15 minutes before and after your workout to properly tune your body for the appropriate activity. You will experience reduced soreness, fewer injuries, and even capture a few moments of Zen as endorphins perform their natural soothing abilities.
There is no question that the human body needs water. It is called the element of life for a reason! Hydration before, during, and after a workout is essential. We often sweat when we work out, depleting our bodies’ water reserves. This results in dehydration which can lead to muscle fatigue and cramping. To stay strong during exercise and calm your muscles afterward, consume ample water to hydrate your muscles. H2O is an essential component, and replenishing your natural water supply helps tremendously when it comes to recovery.
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Your body needs more than water during and post-workout. Sweating depletes electrolytes, the positive or negative electrical charges found in water. And guess what, the human body is roughly 60% water. These charges play a vital role in organ, nerve, and muscle functions. Electrolytes are comprised of natural compounds like sodium chloride (salt), calcium, magnesium, and potassium. If your body is not well-stocked with these nutrients, expect some noticeable post-workout muscle cramps. This can be prevented by consuming a sports drink, orange, or banana to replenish your electrolyte reserve after working out. The same goes for peanuts, walnuts, and raisins.
Protein is critical before and after a workout to help your body recover. It is recommended to consume a protein shake, bar, or a rich source like chicken, eggs, or fish immediately before and after a workout. The post-workout recommendation is a hearty 20 grams. Those with a sweet tooth rejoice because chocolate milk is a great option to consume after exercise. Research has suggested that consuming carbs such as rice, potatoes, and sugar after a workout can also help with muscle recovery as these carbs restore glycogens in the body.
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Plenty of Shuteye
One of the body’s ways of resetting itself is with a good night’s sleep. After intense exercise, rest is critical for mental and physical health. Perform a calming post-workout routine like taking a walk, meditating, or any other enjoyable activity. For peak performance, it is recommended that a person gets in 7-9 hours of sleep each night as this amount of rest is necessary to rebuild muscles fully. Some pro athletes have been known to sleep ten or more hours a night! On the opposite end, sleep deprivation can impair muscle recovery by limiting the inflammation and hormone production necessary for this process.
Other Recovery Methods
While these five techniques are among the most popular and effective for post-workout recovery, they are far from the only ones. Rubbing muscles, especially with some therapeutic compound, can work wonders, as can other simple treatments like ice or heat. If you push yourself a little too hard and experience more soreness than usual, do not hesitate to utilize one or more of these proven remedies.
In addition to massage, a foam roller can help sore muscles immensely. You can even get a mini workout during recovery as some of these techniques mimic a Pilates session! This method boosts blood circulation, restoring flexibility and easing soreness. As it is a low-impact activity, it can be utilized by many people with mobility issues.
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Things to Avoid
If you want to maximize your workouts and recovery time, a few things should be avoided. Alcohol affects the body’s ability to replenish glycogen and protein synthesis in the muscles. Tobacco impacts orthopedic systems and increases the risk of muscle injuries. It is also suggested to increase the risk of joint disease and bone fractures.
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Muscle recovery time can vary significantly. It depends on a person’s activity level, fitness level, and the intensity of the workout. After light exercise, the body could be fully recovered within 24 hours. More challenging activities could require 2-3 days for a person to reset completely. Other factors that affect recovery time include nutrition, sleep, and stress. Just remember, if you push yourself too hard and do not give your muscles enough time to recover, you could injure yourself.
The Power of Planning
Instead of total body workouts, set up an exercise schedule to give different muscle groups time to recover. If you exercise every day, consider a routine like cardio four days a week while devoting one day to your back and upper arms, a day to the chest and lower arms, then a day for legs and core. This schedule gives each area a whole week to recover between sessions. This recovery is critical as it prevents microtears that can lead to pulled or even torn muscles.
If you want to start an exercise program, consult your doctor first. A secondary step of consulting with a trainer is another excellent way of ensuring you get in shape without injuring yourself. Remember, you only get one body, so if you want to get it into optimal condition, be sure to do so safely.