Enhance Your Post-Workout Recovery
Joe Fleming provides ten easy ways to enhance your post-workout recovery
Whether you are an avid gym-goer or a fitness newbie, you have dealt with some post-workout muscle soreness at some point in your life.
It is not exactly fun to wake up the day after a workout and feel like it is impossible to walk from your bed to the bathroom. Luckily, you do not have to wait out the soreness. There are many things you can do to speed up your muscle recovery.
If you feel extra sore from your last gym session, keep reading. Below are ten simple tricks you can try to promote faster post-workout recovery and get back to training sooner.
Go to Sleep
If your day is not even over yet and you are already feeling sore from the workout you did earlier, prioritize a good night's sleep.
When you are in a deep sleep, your body goes to work, repairing the damage that occurred during your workout. If you are not sleeping well, you will likely end up experiencing prolonged soreness and slower recovery.
You can also help promote recovery by taking a short nap after your workout. If it is early in the day, try lying down for twenty minutes for a quick power nap. This should not hinder your ability to fall asleep when nighttime rolls around, and you will be able to jumpstart your muscle recovery.
Drink Plenty of Water
If you are dehydrated, your body will have a hard time repairing itself after a workout. Exercising when you are thirsty will also cause more damage to your muscles.
Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workouts. Do not worry too much about drinking sports drinks like Gatorade. Although they contain electrolytes, these drinks are also typically loaded with sugar. Unless you are doing intense endurance workouts, you do not need anything other than plain water.
Wrap it Up
Applying compression to your muscles can help improve blood flow and speed up the recovery process. This may lessen the soreness you feel after a challenging workout.
You can use special compression garments, elastic bandages, or knee sleeves designed to reduce knee inflammation. All these products work essentially the same way, so you do not have to worry about buying a particular style or brand. Use the one that is most comfortable and affordable for you.
Eat Carbs and Protein
Plan your post-workout meal to make sure it is optimal for muscle recovery. Generally speaking, it is good to consume a meal with a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. For example, you might eat 20 grams of protein and 60 grams of carbohydrates.
Sticking as best you can to this ratio helps you get amino acids and glucose to your muscles, which helps promote recovery and reduce soreness.
Some examples of a good post-workout meal include:
Stretching after your workout can help loosen up your muscles and send nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to the muscles that need it the most.
It is also helpful to stretch on your days off from the gym. This ensures that you are getting more blood and nutrients to your muscles so they can keep repairing themselves.
Head to a yoga class or do some stretches while watching TV or taking breaks from your desk at work.
Drink Some Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice is loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation by preventing oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Drinking tart cherry juice after your workouts will help minimize the inflammation when your muscles are damaged. This speeds up the recovery process and helps reduce the pain and discomfort you might feel after a challenging training session.
Do you not like the taste of tart cherry juice? Try taking a tart cherry supplement for the same benefits.
Skip Happy Hour
If you plan on hitting up happy hour with your friends after your workout, you might want to think again.
Drinking alcohol after a workout slows down the body's recovery processes. This is because alcohol is a toxin. When you drink it, all of your body's resources go toward metabolizing the alcohol and getting it out -- recovery will have to wait until all the alcohol is gone.
Alcohol can also cause dehydration, which, as you already know, is not suitable for muscle recovery.
Eat Plenty of Potassium
Potassium is an important electrolyte that helps promote healthy heart function and muscle contraction. If you are deficient in potassium, you are more prone to experiencing muscle cramps, especially after a difficult workout.
It is better to get potassium from your food as with most nutrients. Bananas and potatoes are both excellent sources of potassium. Try incorporating them into your post-workout meal. You can also take potassium supplements, but try to use these as a last resort.
Contrary to popular belief, "rest day" does not mean "lay on the couch and do nothing day." Aim for "active rest days" instead of total couch potato days. On an active rest day, you do not have to hit the gym. But, it would help if you tried to get out and move.
Go for a walk, do some stretching or mobility drills, or play in the park with your dog. When you move regularly, you stimulate blood flow and ensure your muscles get the nutrients they need to recover.
When you are sore, any activity might seem impossible. But, once you get up and move for a few minutes, you will likely feel better than you had if you had been sedentary all day.
Finally, make foam rolling a part of your active recovery days. Foam rolling helps reduce tension and knots in your muscles and promotes healthy blood flow to speed up recovery. It is like getting a massage, except it is a lot cheaper!
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About the Author
Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Passionate about healthy lifestyles and living a full life, he enjoys sharing and expressing these interests through his writing. To inspire others and fight ageism, Joe writes to help people of all backgrounds and ages overcome life's challenges. His work ranges from articles on wellness, holistic health, and ageing to social narratives, motivational pieces, and news stories. For Joe, helping others is vital.