Recovery helps to decrease the inflammatory chemicals that are released from strenuous exercise. These same inflammatory chemicals make your muscles feel tender, sore and stiff, but with a conscious recovery approach, you will be less sore and your muscles will repair more quickly, Here are some great ways to recover from your workout.
Sleep is the body’s time to repair itself from the physical stress it goes through in a day. During sleep, your body releases enzymes and hormones that promote recovery and even illness prevention. With more sleep, you’ll experience less muscle soreness – which means better performance when you go back to the gym the next day. Sleep equals better recovery.
Icing your muscles can dramatically reduce muscle soreness. My hamstrings were on FIRE last night from leg day a couple days ago so I used my ice pack. IIike the packs with the circle jelly things to allow for easy maneuvering to the contour of the human body as oppose to flat ones where you have to contour yourself to get it in the spot needing attention. You can get a one like you see in the picture for $15. It has a strap you can use to hold it to which ever body part you need. Just 5 minutes each leg helped dramatically! I can straighten my legs out now! haha! You don’t want to ice muscles more than 5 minutes at a time (says my doctor). Some super hard core athletes take ice baths after their workouts!! I’m not quite there yet (and I ain’t got no tub haha) but reducing inflammation with an ice pack can help and allow for a better, more able training session the next day. Try it out if you’re experiencing muscle soreness.
Stretching cues your nervous system to tune down its overstimulation from exercise, it signals your parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and repair system, to become dominant. This helps you to sleep more deeply and maintain mental calm. When I stretch I notice a dramatic difference in muscle soreness and mobility the next day.
Branched-chained amino acids (BCAAs) are nutritional supplements with the essential amino acids (see Complete Proteins in Chapter 2 of the book for an explanation of complete proteins). I have noticed decreased muscle soreness after taking BCAA’s. I take BCAA’s when I’m in phase three (hypertrophy) or phase four (max strength) of my training program. Sometimes not even then because they can be expensive – about $1 per serving. Some protein powders have all the amino acids so need, but it is best to check the label.
Following a workout, your body has immediate nutritional needs. Satisfying these needs quickly—within the first hour or so after the workout is completed—supplies the body with the raw materials it needs to bounce back stronger and perform better tomorrow. In particular, your body needs water to rehydrate. Additionally, eating protein with some carbohydrates after exercise helps to replenish energy stores, sparing protein to help build and repair muscles.
Stephanie is an author, bodybuilder, and blogger. You can check out her latest book here.
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