Dread the pain no more! With these recovery tips, we'll have you feeling less stiffness, pain, and more flexible in no time. Our bodies shouldn't have to feel almost completely inhibited after a hard workout. It's true the soreness can really feel like our body has shut down and ceased to function, so save these tips and put them to use!
Walking up and down the stairs ? Misery. Bending down to pick something up is a task of it's own and not to mention using the restroom, which can make you feel like an old lady!
We've all heard it, the phrase "no pain, no gain," and it can't be closer to the truth especially in those initial stages of training. But one thing is for sure, there is nothing more important than being prepared when it comes to building healthy habits so let's touch up on some recovery tips to build confidence and motivation for that next workout.
Hydration is key to a good workout. I'm not talking about drinking a gallon of water right before a workout. To perform your best, you must hydrate yourself well before, during, and after your workout to help your body remain regulated and balanced. Most chemical reactions in the body require water, especially in muscle contractions, muscle growth, joint lubrication, as well as temperature regulation. Although there isn't an ideal quantity of water needed to be consumed for the average person, the Institute of Medicine recommends that women should aim for 3 L and men 4 L daily.
One of the most important things we can do as humans to stay sane and healthy is sleep, but the key is to focus on sleeping WELL, meaning high quality snoozing. 6-8 hours, depending on the person, of uninterrupted deep sleep, will aid muscles to a faster recovery. Muscle-building hormones are produced in the body while you sleep (such as the HGH), helping to repair the micro-tears made during a strenuous workout. It is one of the easiest and most pleasant ways to restore damaged muscles and at the same time recharge the body to make your next post recovery entrance at the gym. If continuing your exercise routine is important to you, sleep more during recovery periods.
Protein's essential function is to build and repair our cells. Without it, our muscles will obviously take longer to recover. Plan to have a protein rich meal 30 to 60 minutes post workout. Having a protein shake can be one of the easiest and most convenient ways to make sure you get the right amount of protein you need with little prep work. If meal prepping is in your weekly routine or it's something you wish to try, load your meals with enough protein to meet your daily needs (an average of 0.36 grams per pound). You can calculate how much protein you need depending on your age and body weight. This number is adjusted depending on the intensity of your workouts as well. Check out this helpful article on protein intake after workouts
Top free online calculators:
After exercising, especially strength training, our muscles swell up. We might experience something called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), which can make your muscles feel stiff and weak 24-72 hours post workout. Don't worry, this is not forever!
Our bodies do a good job of repairing the damage in the next 72 hours at the most, but we can definitely help enhance a speedy recovery by including some anti-inflammatory fighting foods in our diet. These foods can include tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids like those found in nuts such as almonds and walnuts, fatty fish such as salmon, or you can also invest in fish oil capsule or liquid form.
Fruits like pineapples, oranges, cherries, blueberries and strawberries also contain anti-inflammatory properties. Adding the super anti-inflammatory spice turmeric to your recipes can result very beneficial! It can be added to chicken, meat, eggs, rice or yogurt. There are supplement versions of turmeric if you choose not to add it to your foods.
Other possibly helpful natural supplements could include but are not limited to, cherry (extract in pill form), spirulina (powder, capsule, or oil form), bromeline (tablet or capsule), ginger (available in capsule, extract, tea and powder form as well as an oil).
Even though it may be the last thing you want to do when sore, stretching will help aid recovery along with the previously mentioned tips. Stretch the less sore parts of your body first and breathe slowly through all movements until you get to the sorest areas of your body. Make sure to take your time as these stretches should not be forced. We aren't trying to bend over backwards here!
Stretch multiple times a day to decrease stiffness and re-increase flexibility and strength. Massage while stretching to further help lose muscle tension, especially while taking a warm bath.
Making sure to do all of these tips combined will be the best way to really make a difference in your sore muscles so that you are well on your way to your next workout feeling replenished, refreshed, and stronger than before.
Joanna Gil, BS Nutrition
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended to serve as medical advice so please make sure to contact your healthcare provider before starting any natural supplements.
1. Acsm.org. (2011). Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). [online] Available at: https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/delayed-onset-muscle-soreness-(doms).pdf?sfvrsn=8f430e18_2[Accessed 16 Sep. 2019].
2. Dupuy, Olivier et al. “An Evidence-Based Approach for Choosing Post-exercise Recovery Techniques to Reduce Markers of Muscle Damage, Soreness, Fatigue, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis.” Frontiers in physiology vol. 9 403. 26 Apr. 2018, doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00403