It’s important to understand that your post-workout recovery is just as important as your workout routine in getting desired results like muscle gain, weight loss, and maintenance. Why? Because a good post-workout routine can help you reduce muscle soreness, maintain optimum energy levels, restore vitality, and promote maximum recovery so you can get back into your workout while minimizing the risk of injuries.
What exactly does an effective post-workout recovery routine consist of? Well, everyone's body is different and needs different steps to maximize recovery but the following tips are great starting points to considering adding to your recovery routine.
1. Take a Few Minutes To Cool Down After Your Workout
One of the last things you probably want to do after a tough workout is put in more physical effort or but cooling down is essentia and allows your heart rate to gradually return to its normal ratel. Its recommended to take a few minutes (at least 5 or 6) before moving on to other activities to avoid a muscle strain or other injury. Cooling down can help ease muscle tension, boost mobility, and enhance blood flow which promotes delivery of oxygen and nutrients to those tired muscle you just worked out.
Some simple cool down exercises can include: no-incline slow walking, upper body stretches, knees-to-chest pose (laying down or standing), standing quad stretch, cat-cow stretch, and most slow, low-extertion ways of moving and stretching your body.
2. Stay Hydrated Before, During and After Your Workout
One of the most important things you can do in general and for your post-workout recovery is to stay hydrated. Your body loses a lot of fluid while you sweat, especially during intense workouts so it needs to be replenished to recover and perform optimally. To make sure your body gets the hydration it needs, drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout.
Here’s what the American Council on Exercise recommends:
- Before: 2 to 3 cups of fluid 2-3 hours before starting your workout
- During: 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 minutes during exercise
- After: 8 ounces of fluid 30 minutes after your workout and 16-24 ounces for every pound of body weight lost during exercise
You don’t need to stick to just water though. Consider other alternatives like coconut water, tart juice (like cherry juice), black or green tea, or even a little bit of chocolate milk.
3. Take The Plunge Into An Ice Bath
By now you’ve seen plenty of athletes and celebrities who sweat by ice baths and that’s because ice baths truly work wonders for recovery (among many other benefits). Not only do ice baths boost recovery by reducing pain, swelling, and stiffness but ice baths can also elevate your energy levels, relieve stress, boost your mood and immune system, and support better sleep.
Whether it’s a simple DIY at-home ice bath or you use a time-saving, upgraded Cold Plunge - and ice bath is great for anyone from beginners to pro athletes. If you’re just starting out, consider these tips for your first home ice bath.
4. Give or Get a Massage
A light massage after working out can effectively reduce delayed muscle soreness and relieve current aches and pains. It can also ease any inflammation, tightness, or swelling you may have through gentle but firm pressure. For hard to reach areas like your back, consider a back roller, back massage pad, or going to a professional.
Even a simple compression garment can act as a low level massage and help boost recovery while reducing soreness.
5. Feed Your Muscles The Right Fuel
It's no secret that you need protein and carbohydrates for recovery but you have to be sure to pick the right ones. Firstly, the amino acids from protein help to start the muscle building workers in your body which also repairs damaged muscles and helps with inflammation. Poriotize these high-quality proteins: milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, lean meats, nuts & seeds, soy foods, fish, and whey protein.
Next, prioritize these carbs: fresh fruit, oatmeal, chocolate milk, whole grain pasta & bread, sweet potatoes, and quinoa. Try to avoid refined carbs which can actually cause inflammation.
6. Do Hot and Cold Therapy
Hot and cold therapy (or contrast therapy) has been shown to speed up recovery by reducing aches, pains, swelling and inflammation. As the name suggests, hot and cold therapy invovles alternating bbetween methods of hot and cold such as a cold plunge and a sauna, or a hot shower and a cold shower. We suggest alternating for about 15 minutes while starting and ending with cold. If you’re interested in trying contrast therapy, check out these 8 helpful tips.
We recommend starting with a simple contrast therapy rountine and then tweaking it to make it work better for you and your body.
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