Muscle Recovery After A Workout
It is well-known that working out is a multistep process: there’s the initial spark of inspiration that makes you want to work out, the plan that you create to work out, the motivation that actually gets you to work out, and the workout itself. However, one of the most important aspects of working out is often overlooked – recovery.
Working out and pushing your body’s limits, results in microscopic tears in your muscles, which ultimately help them to grow bigger and stronger. The soreness that you feel after a workout is your body recovering from these tears.
While this might sound alarming, it is a completely natural process that helps us get stronger and build muscle. However, neglecting to allot adequate recovery time can worsen these tears – leading to an actual injury.
Here are a few tips to help your body recover from a workout and help these tears heal, minimize soreness and reduce risk of injury:
- Roll It Out
Once you complete your workout, don’t forget to stretch while you cool down. Stretching and other activities such as foam rolling have been found to increase range of motion, increase pressure pain thresholds and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness – preventing you from becoming stiff and sore in the coming days. Next time you get home from a run, spend the extra 15 minutes stretching and rolling out your legs – your body will thank you later!
- Replenish with Protein
After your workout, be sure to consume plenty of protein. Research has found that protein helps to repair tissues damaged when exercising. Whether it’s a protein smoothie, some grilled chicken, or even a glass of milk, getting in that extra protein will help your body recover from exercising and build muscle quicker.
- Hit Snooze
Your body heals itself while you sleep, and after a big workout, it is even more important to make sure you get eight or more hours of rest. In fact, a study found that sleep extension has a beneficial effect on subsequent athletic performance. Nonetheless, a few extra minutes of sleep are not guaranteed to make you a better athlete, but your body and mind will be grateful for the additional rest.
- Take the Plunge
An ice bath never sounds appealing. However, getting in the habit of icing your muscles after a workout has been proven to reduce muscle soreness and leg stiffness. So, as hard as it may be, taking this additional precaution will help your muscles to recover from those difficult workouts, and after a few times, you may find that the pros of an ice bath well outweigh the cold cons.
- Give Yourself a Rest Day
At times, rest days can be wrongfully associated with the stigma of being “lazy” or “unmotivated.” However, Bowflex Fitness Advisor Tom Holland says that the harder you work out, the more important it is to take rest days. While you may not be used to doing this, know that you are doing the right thing by giving your body the time it needs to heal. Next time you feel like you need a break, take it guilt-free.
This final tip is the most important – listen to your body. You know your limits and know what your body needs to perform. By simply paying attention to your body cues when you work out and when you’re recovering, you’ll be in tune with your body’s needs and make your workout and overall fitness journey as successful as possible.