Whether you’re a runner who hits the pavement hard or someone who just can’t wait to get back in the gym, rest and recovery need to be an essential part of your fitness routine. Unfortunately, we’re all guilty of overdoing it once in a while and that can take a real toll on your performance.
If you have those days where everything just hurts and you just can’t bring yourself to work out, you’re going to love these tips for faster post-workout recovery. Not only will they have you ready to hit the gym sooner, but they’ll also make your recovery days much more pleasant.
Get Plenty of Sleep
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many athletes don’t prioritize sleep. Not only will a lack of sleep slow down muscle recovery, but it will also affect your stamina during workouts.
A lack of sleep will also have a negative impact on your body’s ability to heal itself and manage stress. In fact, getting a little extra sleep on your recovery days is a great way to speed up your recovery so you can hit the gym sooner.
Protein is Key
During a high-intensity workout, you can cause tiny tears in your ligaments and muscles. That’s what makes you so sore afterward. Protein is a building block of muscle tissue, so it’s essential for repairing those tears. Eating it at the right time can make a huge difference in how fast your body recovers.
Having a small, high-protein snack before your workout gives your body a jump start on the amino acids it needs for tissue repair. After your workout, a protein-rich snack can signal to your body that it’s time to build and repair muscle.
When you sleep, your body is basically in fasting mode, so it’s not getting any nourishment. Having a high-protein snack before bed will give your body the raw material it needs to repair your muscles while you sleep.
Once you’ve had a good night’s sleep, providing your body with a nutritious, high-protein breakfast will speed up muscle repair and give you more energy to face the day. It’s a great strategy for getting through post-workout fatigue.
Load Up on Electrolytes and Micronutrients
If you’re really feeling rundown and sore or you’re trying to recover from a big event, consider IV therapy. It’s a great way to load up on the electrolytes and micronutrients your body needs to keep your energy levels up, repair damaged tissue, and build new muscle.
At Rahav Wellness, a center in NYC for integrative and holistic medicine, doctors recommend an IV drip to anyone who wants to recharge, burn fat, and boost athletic performance. One of their most popular IV drips for athletes includes amino acids, carnitine, MIC, B-complex, and chromium to speed muscle growth and repair and fight fatigue.
Break Out Your Foam Roller
If you don’t have a foam roller already, consider investing in one. Not only can your muscles and ligaments tear during strenuous exercise, but they can also become knotted, which also contributes to your aches and pains. Breaking out your foam roller can be uncomfortable when you’re sore, but you’ll be so glad you did it when the pain begins to melt away!
Use Anti-Inflammatories Wisely
Of course, you wouldn’t want to take anti-inflammatories every day. But they can be incredibly beneficial for reducing soreness and making recovery much more pleasant. For most people, it’s perfectly fine to take ibuprofen occasionally.
Or, if you prefer a natural approach, try curcumin, white willow bark, and omega-3 fatty acids. They can all help fight pain and reduce inflammation without the side effects that come with NSAIDs.
Try an Ice Bath
While the idea of an ice bath may not sound very appealing, a lot of hard-core athletes swear b them for fighting fatigue and reducing soreness after a high-intensity workout or big event. Ice baths are also fantastic for reducing inflammation and soreness, as well as helping the muscles and tissues recover.
Drink Some Tart Cherry Juice
If your muscles are aching from yesterday’s weightlifting session, consider drinking some tart cherry juice. Studies show that it can help your muscles recover more quickly and reduce swelling and inflammation. The benefits are said to be similar to curcumin, and it’s safe and natural, so it’s definitely worth trying.
Indulge Your Chocolate Craving
Who doesn’t love chocolate? Chocolate milk makes a super convenient, portable, and delicious snack after a good workout. It’s got protein for muscle recovery and carbs to reduce soreness while giving you a boost of energy to get through the rest of the day.
Say No to Happy Hour
You’ll recover faster if you stay away from alcohol on your rest days. You probably already know it leads to dehydration, which is the last thing you want during recovery. But did you know that alcohol also interferes with protein synthesis? Indulging will delay recovery and healing, not to mention contributing to fatigue and headaches.
Rest Those Muscle Groups
If you want to be able to work out more often, consider alternating muscle groups. Give each muscle group at least two days of rest before you work it again.
And, keep in mind that there’s no hard and fast rule for how long it takes your muscle to recover. Everyone’s different, and your age, fitness level, and lifestyle all influence recovery times.
If you feel like you’re not performing as well as you would like during your workouts, maybe you need more than two days for your muscles to recover.
If your goal is to recover from your workouts as quickly and comfortably as possible, the post-workout recovery tips are just what you need. But remember, rest and recovery days are every bit as important as exercise. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to get back in the gym because your performance will suffer.