When it comes to exercise, getting a proper recovery after a workout is essential to repairing muscles and improving your performance. Muscles need anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild, and working them too hard for long periods of time may lead to tissue breakdown rather than building. Unfortunately, most people want to get quick results from their exercise routines, and therefore push themselves too hard without having a post-exercise recovery plan. You have to take a break after workouts to allow your muscles to recover. But recovery doesn’t mean sitting in front of the TV, chewing on your favorite snacks and gulping down fizzy drinks.
Taking certain actions after exercise will not only speed up your recovery, but will also enable you to exercise for longer. Here are some commonly recommended tips from experts to speed up recovery.
Exercising while dehydrated can cause greater damage to muscles and impair your body’s ability to recover. You lose a lot of fluid during workouts, and naturally need to replace it afterwards. Water is a fundamental component of your metabolic function, and drinking a glass or two will help improve your recovery. Don’t be overly selective about what you drink, though. Forget the fancy sports drinks – a bottle of plain water will often suffice for replenishing body fluids.
During exercise, your body goes through a number of strenuous and repetitive movements. As a result your muscles and tendons accumulate damage and fatigue. You can soothe your muscles and help them to recover more effectively by doing a few minutes of cool down. This is a process where you jog slowly, swing your arms, and circle your shoulders. In other words, it’s a gentle exercise. Cooling down will return your heart rate to its normal pace. Eventually this will prevent blood pooling, reduce the feelings of fatigue, and help you to recover faster.
After using up all your energy with exercise, you need to refuel it if you expect to repair, recover, and ready your muscles for another exercise routine. Try to eat within 60 minutes of your workout, as this is when your muscles absorb nutrients most effectively. Make sure you include protein in your diet to kickstart muscle recovery, ideally with a protein shake.
Plunging your whole body into ice-cold water can significantly reduce muscle soreness. If dipping in cold water seems an uncomfortable prospect, consider contrast water therapy as an alternative. While taking a shower after exercise, alternate 2 minutes of hot water and 30 seconds of cold water. The theory is that, by repeatedly dilating and constricting the blood vessels with hot and cold water, you can disperse waste products and lactic acid in the tissues, which further helps to speed up the recovery process.
It is perfectly okay to stay away from your workouts for a couple of days if you need to. Resting is one of the easiest ways to recover after a vigorous workout, since you have to do nothing but, well, rest. Your body has an amazing mechanism to recover itself if you give it enough time. So take a break and get some quality sleep. During sleep, your body has a chance to synthesize protein and growth hormones, in order to increase and repair tissues.
Regular exercise is necessary if you want to get good results, but recovering from an exercise session is equally important. If you’re looking to start or change your exercise routine, contact us today to see how we can help.