Did you know that workout recovery is just as important as the workout itself? To make the best health and fitness gains you need your body functioning optimally, and that is where workout recovery plays an integral role in any fitness program. Today we’re going to look at recovery from a timeline perspective – what to do immediately after your workout, what to do that day, and the general steps you should take. Follow these guidelines to ensure you recover properly and promptly from a workout.
Workout recovery: Post workout
Rehydrating after a workout is important regardless of when and where you are working out – whether it’s rugged up during a frosty morning run or sweating it up during a summer workout. Even more so in Asia, given the hot and humid environment that causes so much sweating! Dehydration from exercise can really hamper workout recovery, with issues of muscle cramping and excessive soreness. Ideally, you should rehydrate within 15 to 30 minutes after a workout, using water and electrolyte drinks.
As well as rehydrating, you need to replenish your depleted glycogen stores with carbohydrates for your cells to adequately function and protein for muscle repair to begin. To do this, eating whole foods is the best option. This is why people often use the expression “earn your carbs” – it’s referring to you using up stores during your workout and hence you’ve earned the need to replenish them for recovery. However, depending on the nature of your workout, as well as your individual preferences, you may find it difficult to eat within 30 – 60 minutes of your workout. This is where recovery bars and protein shakes came from (aside from commercial considerations of course).
If you struggle to eat a meal, then these alternatives are useful. Just be careful, and read the labels as it is easy to overdo them which can lead to a load more calories than you expect. Interestingly, studies have suggested that chocolate milk has a carbohydrate to protein ratio that mirrors most recovery bars and has shown to diminish factors of muscle damage. Don’t just fall for the latest marketing campaign without knowledge. If you’re working out in the morning, try the Active8me Green Eggs with Feta and Dill for a post workout recovery breakfast.
Have a contrast shower, that is, alternate between hot and cold water! This improves your circulation so that your muscles are cleared of chemicals that result in soreness. It is also considered to aid recovery through reduced inflammation.
Workout recovery: On a daily basis
Yes, we feel like this is an obvious one, considering we all need sleep to recover from fatigue! But, apart from the fact that lack of sleep is associated with weight gain and obesity, getting good quality sleep is prime time for muscle repair and growth! Never forget that your muscles don’t repair and build during your workout – this happens while your sleeping – which is why sleep is more important than you might think to reach your goals. Find out more about the effects of too little or poor quality sleep and follow our guide on Top Tips for Getting Sleep Fit to make the most of your recovery time.
Stretching or some gentle yoga practice
Stretching is one of the most overlooked parts to recovery. It is a great way to maintain flexibility, reduce muscle tension and possibly fight the effects of muscle soreness. Go on, get up now and have a gentle stretch!
Workout recovery: Generally – as part of your regular routine
Especially if you’re sore, doing something rhythmical, yet not too taxing, such as walking, swimming or easy cycling can help by getting the blood flowing which will help clear any lactic acid build up and reduce the perceived effect of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Take steps to reduce stress in your life
While most people believe stress is an emotional issue, it has a huge impact on your physical well-being and can severely hamper workout recovery with the release of hormones that promote fat storage and hinder sleep. Check out ‘In the Ring with Exercise and Stress – 5 Surprising Ways that Exercise Can Help You Beat Stress Now’.
Invest in a foam roller
Rolling your muscles over a foam roller (usually with your body weight behind it) is great for myofascial release. Your fascia is the tissue covering your muscles and is often responsible for the ‘tight’ feeling after a hard workout. While foam rolling can be somewhat uncomfortable, grit your teeth and keep in mind the benefits for your workout recovery!
Perhaps in contrast to foam rolling, a massage is definitely enjoyable! And workout recovery is a great excuse for a massage! Massage can release muscle tension and ease spasms associated with imbalances. It can also highlight areas you need to work on more consistently for strength or conditioning. Plus, it’s good for mental wellness and de-stressing. We can’t say enough good things about the benefits of massage!
Balanced healthy nutrition
It seems like a no-brainer, but if you’ve been adding regular, hard workouts to your schedule, you may unwittingly be depleting certain nutrients. Eating well nourishes your body with the nutrients it needs to recover. Ensure you get enough potassium and calcium in your regular diet, as these are important nutrients for muscle growth and repair. Tip -bananas are a great source of potassium and yoghurt with berries is great for calcium and antioxidants to help reduce any inflammation.
We want you to enjoy the benefits of living a healthy, active life. So don’t forget to prioritise your recovery so you can make the most of your hard work! That means physical recovery and mental recovery!