The tough thing about really intense workouts is your body?s propensity for extreme discomfort and soreness post-workout. Does this mean you shouldn?t workout hard?
Definitely not – the soreness is just a fact of exercise (plus, it tells you that you?re doing something right).
However, there are a few tips you should always follow when working to recover from these workouts – these tips are especially important after a huge cardio workout (a triathlon, a marathon, etc.) or an intense weight-lifting session.
Tip #1 – Active Recovery
I know this might be the very last thing you want to do at the conclusion of a long run, bike ride, or weight session, but cycling out of an exercise state is just as important as cycling into one.
Very few people start working out without some level of warming up – this warm-up may last for only five minutes, but it preps your body to train. The same way you warm into the workout, you should cool down and out of the workout.
This cooldown is much healthier for your muscles than a cold stop. At the conclusion of a run, jog slowly, then walk briskly, for five to ten minutes.
This same mentality can be applied to almost any type of exercise – just try to avoid that cold stop. Your body will thank you.
Tip #2 – Drink and Keep Drinking
When you work out, especially at high-levels of intensity, your body simply loses a lot of fluids. One of the most important things you can do to improve the quality and time of your recovery is to simply drink water to replenish those lost fluids.
By replenishing your body?s supply of water, you are supporting metabolic functions, as well as the transfer of nutrients between cells. Keeping hydrated during workouts is also really important in avoiding dehydration, which leads to fatigue and can affect your performance.
While this is more targeted towards cardio-athletes (marathoners, etc.) it is important across the board. Stay hydrated, drink water.
Tip #3 – Stretch
This one goes in tandem with active recovery, and can often serve as a kind of cooldown itself. Not only is stretching important for injury reduction, but it also helps your muscles recover.
By stretching out the kinks, you can identify where the soreness lies, and begin to work that out, the same way a good massage works the knots out of your back.
This one is especially important for runners, walkers, and bikers, as these athletes often suffer from tight hamstrings because of the nature of their chosen sport. Running is high impact and cycling provides a long-term limited motion.
In order to feel better, and to fight your chances of getting hurt, stretching is of the utmost importance. See this blog for more tips on exercising and healthy lifestyle.
Tip #4 – Rest, Relax, and Sleep
One of the most natural, and obvious, ways to recover from a tough workout is to simply relax. Often, if the workout is really tough, your body won?t give you much of a choice.
And while this is not the only thing you should do to speed up your recovery process, it is one of the best (and easiest) things you can do. If you can rest while staying hydrated, you?ll allow your body to work on healing itself.
With that, sleep is one of the most important things in relation to athletic performance. If you don?t get enough sleep, you?ll suffer from fatigue and lack of focus, but if you get your 8 hours, you?ll perform better, while also speeding up your recovery.
This is because, while you sleep, your body is in such a heightened level of relaxation that it begins to heal itself, reducing hormonal imbalances, standardizing fluidity levels, and repairing muscle tissue.
Tip #5 – Eat
When you work out, your body utilizes its energy stores to feed your muscles. That means you have to refuel post-workout, and the best way to refuel is the healthy way.
Get some carbs and protein in your system, and try to keep these carbs and protein whole and natural, rather than processed and refined.
By Daniel DeMoss, Personal Trainer, MSc