9 Ways To Speed Up Your Recovery After A Workout
As beneficial to your health as working out is, it is also a form of stress on the body. You need to break down your existing muscle in order to build new muscle, and some pain during that process is, unfortunately, part of the territory. However, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your post-workout soreness to a minimum and help get your body get back into fighting shape as quickly as possible!
1. Don't Get Dehydrated
After your workout, you will need more water than usual to replace fluids lost through sweat, remove the waste products that built up during your workout, and facilitate the nutrient transfer needed for proper recovery. Dehydration can get in the way of all this, and thus cause you to experience more soreness than you otherwise might.
You should have a water bottle with you while you're working out and sip from it at least every fifteen minutes, and then try to drink one or two liters more than you usually would throughout the the course of your day. You don't need any fancy, calorie-packed energy drink either— plain old H20 should be do the trick!
2. Get Proper Nutrition
This one may seem like common sense, but there's no way your body can recover from your workout if you're not giving it the proper fuel to do so! Protein, which is full of the amino acids your body uses to build and repair muscle, is the nutrient most important for workout recovery.
If you can, you should try to have some in your system before you workout as well as afterwards, so working out sometime between lunch and dinner would probably the best idea for someone on phase 2 of the 123Diet. It's also important that you replenish your electrolytes, which you can do by eating foods high in salt and potassium (like banana, avocado, and kale)!
3. Get Enough Sleep
Since most of your growth hormone secretion and protein synthesis happens during your sleep, there's no way your muscles are going to recover properly and promptly if you aren't getting enough shut-eye. Your muscles will also naturally relax during REM sleep, which can help relieve tension that may have built up during your workout.
If possible, you should try to get a full eight or nine hours rather than trying to skimp by with seven. You could also try taking a pre-workout or post-workout nap if you've been dealing with a lot of sleep deprivation!
3. Try A Cool Or Cold Bath
Some athletes have used ice baths to reduce their muscle soreness and inflammation and speed up their recovery. The constricted blood flow that occurs in an ice bath better enables muscles to get rid of metabolic waste products that have built up during workouts, so this method is often an effective one, but there is some evidence that reducing these waste products too quickly could actually impair muscle gain. A bath that's merely cool rather than freezing may thus be a good happy medium.
4. Avoid Alcohol
If you were thinking of rewarding yourself for your workout by heading to happy hour, think again. Not only will you probably be virtually undoing your workout calorie-wise if you indulge in a drink, alcohol will also delay your rehydration by acting as a diuretic. Alcohol use may also interfere with your protein synthesis and have negative effects on your sleep quality and hormone levels, so it's best to minimize your intake or abstain altogether.
7. Try Active Recovery
You may not feel like doing much the day after an intense workout, but sitting around may actually make you feel worse. It may seem a little counterintuitive, but being active can increase blood flow to your sore muscles, thus enabling you to recover more quickly. It also might help you feel better by providing you with a boost of pain-relieving endorphins.
Try to stretch or take a quick walk at the very least, and if you have the time, you may also want to engage in another form of low-intensity exercise like cycling or swimming. You could also try these simple ways to move more without doing any other formal "exercise."
8. Eat More Anti-inflammatory Foods
Since increased inflammation is one of the primary causes of muscle soreness, you may find that you experience less pain post-workout if you pack your diet with plenty of whole, healthy foods. Oily fish may be a particularly great choice because they provide a substantial dose of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid and give you a lot of protein at the same time.
Other good options include broccoli, turmeric, tomatoes, garlic, beans, and green tea. You can also try fighting your inflammation with an over the counter medication like an NSAID if things get really bad, but only if you've talked to your doctor about the risk of internal bleeding. Tylenol, on the other hand, should be avoided if you can help it because of its potential to cause liver damage.
9. Don't Forget Rest Days
If you notice deterioration in your performance or persistent soreness after your workouts despite adequate hydration and nutrition, you may just be doing too much. Most experts recommend only using the same muscles group in intense exercise after a minimum of two days of rest, and doing intense exercise no more than five or six days a week period.