Staying committed to an active lifestyle takes work. Being sore after a hard workout often de-incentivizes from sticking to an exercise routine.
You can combat this by learning basic muscle recovery activities to do after exercise.
Anytime you engage in physical activities (like exercising) 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, it needs to be repaired before it can be fully used again.
Recovery means to return what was lost in the breaking down process. The muscle recovery activities you do after physical exercise will determine your state for the next physical activity.
Here are 5 things you should do after exercise for 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 hundred of other cellular reactions in the body which also require water. Just sweating alone, you lose 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 wondering how much water should I really drink 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, well, what about the food, veggies, soda, and coffee I already consume. They all 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 helps 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).
Consider a high quality fish oil supplement.
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
Rebuild your muscles after breaking them down by eating the right types of food through your diet. 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 ice bath.
If a full body ice bath does not sound appealing, add a cold pack for 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off to the affected muscle to aid muscle recovery. Adding cold will constrict blood vessels to help with swelling. Hot therapy increases blood flow to the area after swelling has subsided.
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, a better option is to invest in a quality muscle massage product.
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.
Paul Pudhnum is the founder of huxfit®, a resource for those who want healthy muscles and that want to remain life long athletes. He is a Biochemist, patent holder and inventor of the TP BuddieRx.