It’s the same whether you love or hate exercise – your body needs to recover after a gruelling session before you can go at it again. If you don’t take time off, you run the risk of aggravating sore muscles, which can lead to more serious injuries, keeping you out of action for an even longer period of time! So what can you do to ensure you don’t fall victim to niggling injuries and aches?
1. Protein Before and After Working Out
You may have heard of consuming protein post-workout as it means your body has a steady supply of fuel to continue rebuilding throughout the day. But consuming protein pre-workout? This can actually trigger your body to begin muscle building and repairing during your workout, as well as after it. Whether you load up on lean meats or protein shakes, consumption both before and after your workout will help reduce the recovery time. Don’t overeat though…
2. Drink More Water
Hydration is key to any post-workout recovery, but it’s also important to ensure you are fully hydrated before and during exercise. Working out without enough fluids in your body may result in greater damage to your muscles; even worse, your body may even find it harder to fix itself afterwards. Water is all you need to rehydrate yourself and it has the bonus of not containing added sugar!
3. Jump Into an Ice Bath
Ok, not everyone has access to one of these but the concept is the same whether you take a cold shower or apply ice packs on your muscles. The idea is that this coldness can help to reduce potential inflammation or muscle soreness which may be experienced, for up to 24 hours post-workout. If you’re not used to it, your body may get a shock when it is first exposed to the cold but it will get used to it fairly quickly. You’ll find that you feel much better after it and your muscles will thank you too!
4. Remember to Cool Down
Whether you call it warming or cooling down, its importance remains the same. An abrupt stop to exercise while your heart is still pumping blood at high speed may result in some dizziness, so a cool down helps your heart rate return to normal. It also helps to lower the probability of sore muscles as lactic acid and other toxins are likely to be forced out of muscles during the cool down period. A sudden stop will result in a lactic acid build up, which can only spell trouble!
5. Sleep More
For all the warming down, protein consumption, and light workouts, one of the most overlooked aspects is actual rest and recuperation. The lack of sleep may end up reducing your ability to endure tough workouts and may even worsen fatigue, preventing subsequent workouts at the same level of intensity. In addition, the muscle building hormones increase in concentration while you sleep, so if you don’t get enough sleep, naturally your muscles will take longer to recover. Try getting 8 hours of quality sleep every night.
6. Include a Recovery Week
Exercise or working out basically breaks down your body and muscles so that the body will repair itself, coming back stronger than ever. However, if your schedule is too frequent, you run the risk of overtraining which may lead to exhaustion. As a result, you may take much longer to recover and experience rubbish workout session in the process. Try setting 1 week aside for lighter exercise every 3 to 5 weeks, depending on your body. Do your workout at half the intensity or repetitions so your body gets its dose of exercise, but also leaves room for it to recover properly.
Remember, recovery is equally as important as the workout itself so don’t overexert yourself and always let your body recover before hitting the gym again. If you have any tips and tricks to speed up recovery, share them with us!