5 Workout Recovery Tips
Rest up, relax and get back to the gym quicker.
Feeling sore the day after a workout is a source of pride. It means you hit it hard in the gym and you’re rebuilding your body into a faster, stronger version of yourself. However, you don’t want to feel so sore the following day that getting out of bed feels like a Herculean task!
Luckily, there’s a few things you can do to alleviate some of the more noticable aches and pains after a workout. That’s why we wanted to share a few tips to speed up your recovery time, loosen up your muscles and get you back in the gym sooner!
Roll It Out
Foam rolling is thought to loosen up sore spots on your muscles through myofascial release. This helps tight muscles to relax, allowing you to enjoy increased flexibility. And while using a foam roller can be a bit painful in the moment, your body can end up feeling much better the next day and help speed up your recovery.
When rolling out, apply light pressure until you feel a sore area. Once you’ve found it, continue rolling over that spot for about 30 seconds. Give yourself a quick break (under a minute) and then go back to that area to try and loosen it up some more. Go three times in total. If it hurts too much, go easier on the amount of pressure you’re using. You don’t want to make things worse and have to spend more time recovering!
PRO TIP: If you don’t have access to a foam roller, try using a tennis ball to focus in on specific muscles that are hurting.
Drink Plenty of Water
This seems obvious, but staying hydrated is a key factor in recovery. This is especially true after a hard workout. Your body has lost a lot of water through sweating and needs to be replenished so it can continue functioning at a peak level. And without the right amount of liquids, your body is going to be more susceptible to developing cramps or getting a headache. Not good.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all rule for how much water you should have in a day, you should make sure you’re taking in more liquids than usual after a workout and the following day.
For starters, drink at least 8 oz in the 30 minutes after a workout. And if it was an especially intense one, considering having a sports drink on-hand to replace lost electrolytes (preferably a low sugar version!). Basically, use your best judgment with how much water to take in. Just make sure you’re not finding yourself thirsty and that you feel you’ve had enough liquid to keep your body functioning at its peak.
Try This: Feeling a little bored with H2O? Try infusing your water to liven things up!
Make sure you’re giving your body the proper time it needs to recover. If you don’t, you’re putting yourself at risk for injury.
It’s recommended to give the muscle group you’ve been working on 24-48 hours hours of rest between heavy lifting session. Not only will this help you prevent fatigue, but if you head right back to the gym you’re not maximizing on all the hard work you put in. Without appropriate recovery time, you’re breaking down your muscles too soon.
Another important factor in recovery is to get enough sleep, especially the night after a hard workout. In fact, if you don’t get enough sleep, you might be undoing all the work you have already put in. Without proper rest, your metabolism won’t be running optimally and your muscles aren’t recovering properly. Plus, a good night’s sleep will allow you to workout harder when you’re ready to return to the gym.
Quick Tips: Create a sleep schedule and stick to it. Put away your phone an hour before bed. And make sure your room is dark enough to sleep comfortably!
Eating the right kind of foods after a workout is one of the best things you can do to speed up your recovery. As we mentioned earlier, when exercising you’re breaking down your muscles, as well as using stored up glycogen. Afterward, the goal should be to build your muscles and stamina back up as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Loading up on proteins and carbohydrates helps supply your body with the right kind of nutrients to bring your energy back to pre-workout levels. Some great choices to have in the following hours or next day would be sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, pasta, and even chocolate milk!
When it comes to getting your protein fix, try eating salmon, eggs, chicken, or Greek yogurt. If you’re pressed for time, a protein bar will also be helpful (much like the sports drink, low sugar is ideal!).
Pro tip: To make the most of all your time in the gym, try and eat a healthy, protein-packed meal within an hour after working out.
If you don’t want to miss out on a day of exercise, opt for a lighter workout, such as walking or biking on your rest days. For example, if you’re training for a half-marathon, go for a slow jog the following day after an intense workout. If you did a heavy day of weightlifting, consider your follow-up workout to be a session of restorative Yoga.
Basically, the point of an active recovery day is that don’t want to break down your muscles all over again. If you do, you’ll only be holding yourself back during your fitness journey. But an active recovery session can still give you the mental health benefits of exercising, while keeping keep blood flowing throughout your body, reducing overall soreness and aiding in recovery. Not a bad way to spend your day off. Remember, just don’t overdo it!
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