Exemplary post-workout recovery can make the difference between not wanting to get off your couch and feeling like you’re ready to leap into a new activity. But for some, no matter how easy you take it at the gym, the day after a workout feels like you’ve been run over by a bus. Others, like professional athletes, can’t afford debilitating soreness. They need to be able to bounce back quickly and be primed for their next practice.
But whether you’re a professional athlete or only spend a day a week at the gym, no one enjoys DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) or general soreness. And fast recovery after workouts can be enjoyed by anyone that uses the following muscle-recovery tips.
Whether you’re strength training or breaking a sweat with cardio, there are physiological changes that happen to your body during exercise. Working out produces a whole host of life-elongating chemical reactions, but it also damages your muscles with tiny ruptures — and these micro-injuries have something to do with the pain you feel post-workout.
When we say damage, it’s a temporary — and most of the time, positive — type of injury. If we get down to brass tacks, technically, your body is “damaged” when you dry yourself with a towel after a shower, since you’re actually peeling away skin cells. What happens after these micro-tears is healing, which generates new muscle mass, forms new capillaries that transmit nutrients to your muscles, and much more. And protein can help put the healing process on speed-dial.
The best way to recover from a workout fast is by utilizing strategic protein consumption. Protein is the main structural component of cells and helps to get your muscles ready for action much faster. Eat small amounts of protein before and after a workout, and even right before bed. But don’t overconsume, as flooding your body with too much protein can cause issues. You also don’t necessarily have to eat a ton of meat (or any meat at all) to get your protein needs. Your best and safest bet is to schedule an appointment with a certified nutritionist to formulate a meal plan and gauge how much protein you need for your active lifestyle.
A massage gun uses percussive therapy and powerful vibrations to break down scar tissue, drain extracellular waste like lymph fluids and venous blood, and, in the case of post-workout recovery, it relaxes tight muscles and helps oxygenate the blood, delivering healing nutrients to areas of soreness.
In fact, a study found that massage guns were equally as effective in combating soreness as getting a regular massage. And as an effective massage for sports, massage guns now set the benchmark.
Massage guns are easy to use on yourself, and it’s actually recommended to use them independently. You know your body best, and by using a massage gun on yourself, you can hone in on problem areas and adequately gauge your level of pain and soreness.
Use a massage gun to oxygenate the blood, which delivers healing nutrients to areas of soreness
Inflammation is your body’s way of saying that there’s something wrong with a particular area. Inflammation comes in two types — chronic and acute. Acute inflammation happens after an injury or tough workout, and you may see swelling or redness around particular areas. Chronic inflammation is a result of stress, overconsumption of alcohol, obesity, smoking, and other issues.
Acute inflammation is a reactionary response from your body that sends white blood cells to an area to protect it from infection. So, in some cases, inflammation is a good thing. However, many people have small cases of acute or chronic inflammation that slow down recovery times and lead to too much or prolonged inflammation, which can lead to injury.
What you put into your body affects recovery after workouts a great deal. If you eat certain foods in excess — or even small amounts — you may be unknowingly dealing with a small case of chronic inflammation — even if you otherwise look or feel healthy. Use the following food do’s and don’ts to help promote muscle recovery:
• Refined carbohydrates
• Overly-processed foods
• Fried foods
• Table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup
• Vegetable and seed oils
• Leafy greens like kale and spinach
• Nut and fruits
• Fatty fish
• Herbs like ginger and turmeric
• Olive oil
Post-workout recovery is nearly meaningless without water! According to a study published by the American College of Sports Medicine, an intense workout can account for 4% of lost body weight, which can spiral into dehydration. Here are a few benefits of drinking water after a workout:
• Regulates body temperature
• Lubricates joints
• Prevents dehydration
• Helps maintain energy levels
But the list goes on! The most important thing water consumption does for post-workout recovery is replenish electrolytes, which rebuild damaged tissue. It also balances blood acidity, helps to excrete waste, and makes muscles function properly.
Practice proper hydration and post-workout stretching or yoga to speed up recovery
Deep stretching improves flexibility and helps to realign tissues that become disjointed and strained during physical activity. Proper stretching smoothes out muscle fibers and can make individuals less prone to tears, strains, and other injuries that can happen after intense exercise. However, it’s important to note that not all stretches are equal. Proper mechanics and targetive stretches that reach the right places can make the difference of whether or not stretching has a positive effect on muscle recovery.
Yin yoga is a stretch-based type of yoga that focuses on long — usually 2-7-minute — stretch poses. Yin is unique in that it zeroes in on connective tissue, releasing stress and loosening up muscles, which improves circulation and helps repair muscles faster. Many athletes like to work Yin yoga into a comprehensive recovery plan, and choose to utilize Yin after especially intense exercise.
Tired of sore muscles? Feel and move better with Ekrin Athletic’s state-of-the art B37 Percussion Massager.
Written by Morgan Sliff
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