Feeling beat up after your last workout? Bounce back quicker and better with these all-natural recovery strategies.
Rest and recovery are essential parts of any workout routine. Your after exercise recovery routine has a big impact on your sports performance and fitness gains, allowing you to train much more effectively.
Unfortunately, most folks don’t have an after exercise recovery plan. We get it –it can be tough to get motivated to hit the gym when you’re still beat up and sore from your last workout. There’s a reason you’re still stiff and hurting: Exercise creates swelling and inflammation from microscopic tears in your tissues. Add to that bio-chemical buildup of muscle-borne acids and enzymes, and it’s no wonder we all need time to recuperate and recover!
While it’s tempting to just ignore the aches and pains, recovery requires immediate attention to reduce bleeding and injury from damaged cells. Start the healing process as soon as possible and shake past the pain by following these all-natural workout recovery tips.
Employ Ice Therapy.
Ice reduces inflammation and soreness can be eased with local applications of ice therapy. Ice is a strong vasoconstrictor, stopping blood vessels from bleeding in the event of injury. Icing sore muscles as soon as possible post workout is recommended. Apply an ice pack to the affected muscles for 15 to 20 minutes. Note: Ice therapy is less effective the longer you wait, so be sure to employ ice therapy as soon as possible to get the best results.
Shake it off with a Cold Shower. Taking a cold, full-body plunge after working out can also significantly reduce inflammation and soreness.
Heal with Heat Rubs.
Heat gets the blood flowing in your muscles, ligaments and joints, which helps flush out toxins and speeds recovery. Most drug-store rubs generate heat with ingredients like menthol, eucalyptus or cayenne pepper (which contains a chemical called capsaicin that is thought to flush toxins.)
While ice is most effective immediately following a workout or injury, heat applications can also help in the following hours and days. Not only does heat help reabsorb the extra blood from injured capillaries, it also relieves constriction in the muscles and prevents further injury by helping them relax.
Compression garments have been gaining in popularity over the last few years and there’s a reason why. Sore muscles are caused by micro tears and bleeding, so the theory is compression acts as a tourniquet to slow the bleeding. Compression garments have also been shown to keep your joints better aligned and improve performance while preventing injury preventing post-exercise aches and pains. Note: Make sure they fit snugly without being too constricting; you should feel like you’re being gently squeezed, yet still have room to move comfortably.
Power up the Protein.
In the morning, high protein breakfast foods can give our muscles the necessary ingredients to jump start rebuilding while consuming a light, protein-rich snack before bed allows our bodies to keep repairing muscles while we’re sleeping. Amino acids are the building blocks of tissue, so consuming protein pre-workout gives our bodies enough to rebuild and maintain muscles damaged during workouts. Enjoying a protein shake or eating a protein-filled meal post-workout can ensure the body has enough fuel to keep on rebuilding throughout the day.
Tap into your inner child and indulge in chocolate milk, one of the best post-exercise recovery drinks, according to research presented by the American College of Sports Medicine. In a series of four studies, researchers found that chocolate milk offered a recovery advantage to help repair and rebuild muscles, compared to specially designed carbohydrate sports drinks.
Consume Tart Cherry Juice
The most effective way to accelerate muscle recovery after exercise is to prevent muscle damage from occurring during exercise. And one of the best ways to do prevent muscle damage during exercise is to consume the right nutrients before exercise. Tart cherry juice does just that. This was demonstrated in a 2010 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. Twenty recreational runners consumed either cherry juice or a placebo for five days before running a marathon, then again on race day, and for two days afterward as well. The runners who got the cherry juice exhibited less muscle damage immediately after the marathon, also showing lower levels of inflammation, and recovered their muscle strength significantly quicker.
For the most benefit, drink a glass or two of tart cherry juice the day before and the day of a strenuous workout
Don’t forget to Hydrate!
It’s important to replenish fluids before and after a workout. Exercising while dehydrated can cause greater damage to muscles and reduce the body’s ability to repair itself so it’s important to have a good before, during, and after hydration strategy in place. The water will help flush out the toxins that contribute to your soreness and promote a quicker, stronger recovery.
Get more Rest.
Research has shown that sleep deprivation can have a significantly negative impact on performance and recovery. Sleep is the time when the body undergoes the greatest production of human growth hormone, which rebuilds stressed muscles, so make sure to get your Vitamin Zzz’s for a better recovery. Ideally, you should aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night, especially after a strenuous workout. If that’s not possible, simply adding a half-hour nap in the afternoon can lower stress hormones and boost your recovery. In fact, research suggests taking a nap around two hours after a workout can help the body enter deep, restorative states of sleep.
Massage it out!
Much of the soreness that goes along with working out occurs when our muscles and fascia, the connective tissue running throughout the body, becomes knotted. Massage therapy, whether at your local salon, or with your personal hand-held MyoBuddy percussive massager can help work out those knots and reduce stiffness associated with muscle repair while also breaking up scar tissue.
Kneading sore muscles also prevents further injury by increasing mobility and lubricating soft tissue, while speeding recovery by flushing away the toxic byproducts of exercise and increasing blood flow to the muscles.