Everyone experiences sore muscles after a workout, but for beginners especially, it can be discouraging.
Fortunately, you can reduce the soreness that comes with your workout by implementing the recovery tips below.
Anytime you engage in a physical activity, you are placing a demand on the muscles within your body. This is the process of “breaking down” muscle tissue. Once a muscle has been broken down, the body immediately begins to repair it, making it stronger than before.
Recovery means rebuilding the muscle you broke down during exercise. What you do during recovery will determine the condition your muscles will be in for your next workout.
Here are the 5 things you should do after exercise to improve your muscle recovery.
Tip 1 – Hydrate Correctly
Proper hydration is foundational for optimal health and wellness. But many people casually dismiss it.
Your muscles are made up of 75% water (source). This means that water is an important component to keeping your muscles healthy and getting them to work efficiently. In addition, there are hundreds of other cellular reactions in the body which also require water. Just by sweating alone, you lose both water and electrolytes.
According to a study, the average person (in the US) drinks about 3.9 cups of water everyday. This is woefully short of what your body needs.
You might be asking how much water should you really be drinking per day?
In general, for an active adult, the rough estimate is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water every day.
If you are wondering, the food, veggies, soda, and coffee you already consume do count toward your water total. The body just has to convert them to a more usable form.
Tip 2 – Take A Fish Oil Supplement
Fish oil contains Omega-3’s, fatty acids that help to reduce workout-derived inflammation (source). This is important because as you exercise, you are causing your muscles to breakdown.
This muscle breakdown creates inflammation in the body (don’t worry, this is good inflammation). This inflammation cues your body to begin the rebuilding and recovering process. Omega-3’s help reduce that inflammation and reduce soreness during recovery.
Consider a high quality fish oil supplement such as Utzy’s U-Omega.
When buying fish oil, look for a high quality, natural triglyceride fish oil. This is the natural form of fish oil, and has the best absorption in your body.
Tip 3 – Eat The Proper Nutrients
Eating the right types of food can also help rebuild your muscles during the recovery phase. Good muscle recovery foods are those high in potassium.
High potassium foods include:
A study with tart cherry juice showed that cherries might be effective in aiding recovery and reducing muscle damage, inflammation and oxidative stress. Cherries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, which help with inflammation and muscle recovery.
In addition to the above mentioned foods, protein is also crucial for muscle recovery. Protein is the building block of muscle
High protein foods include:
According to a recent study, eating or drinking protein at night improves overnight muscle recovery.
Tip 4 – The Benefits of Cryotherapy and Hot Therapy
In a 2012 report, researchers looked at 17 studies involving 400 people. It consisted of a 60°F ice bath for at least five minutes after exercise. This reduced muscle soreness by 20 percent compared to those who had not had an ice bath.
If a full body ice bath does not sound appealing, add a cold pack to sore muscles for 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off to aid in recovery. Adding cold will constrict blood vessels to help with swelling.
Hot therapy increases blood flow to the area after swelling has subsided. Heat therapy generally consists of dry heat, using heating pads or packs, or wet heat, meaning hot baths and saunas.
This 1-2 punch is an effective combo. Limit the exposure time to 20 minutes at a time for both hot and cold therapy on muscles or joints.
Tip 5 – Rehab Muscle At Home
One of the most under-rated activities for muscle recovery is self-massage. Use it as a supplement for those days you can’t make it to see your massage therapist.
You can always use your hands to massage sore muscles. However, another option is to invest in a massage aid.
The TP BuddieRx is an anatomical muscle recovery stick designed to help you maintain healthy muscles. Learning how to use it will help you to reduce muscle soreness and zone in on specific trigger points. This can be especially helpful if you have a knot in your calf.
Aside from all the technical information, you can use your body to teach you what to fix. Sore and painful muscles will lead you to the correct muscle groups to massage.
After you find a sore muscle, then massage with long strokes up and down the length of the muscle to isolate the place where the pain is originating.
Alternating pressure on this muscle knot for 5-15 seconds will improve soreness and lessen the pain. This is best done on lower body muscles where access is easy.
This only takes 15 minutes or less a day. Do it when you are winding down your day, it will help to relax your body and mind.
Exercise does amazing things at any age. Keeping your body and muscles healthy after exercise is a learning process. Muscle recovery is personal, but incorporate these fundamental tips to ensure you stay active for many more years to come.