You may experience that feeling of pain and tiredness after exercising. That’s a sign that your body is tired and needs time to recover. Is there anything you can do to accelerate that recovery? What helps muscles regain their strength faster?
Eating nutritious food, drinking a lot of water, sleeping well, and massage therapy help improve your muscle recovery, no matter if you’re a professional athlete or you’re working out to stay fit. It usually takes 24 hours for muscles to recover, but it depends on your workout difficulty. For more challenging workouts, it takes two or three days.
Read on as we explore the importance of muscle recovery and introduce ways to maximize your recovery period. We’ll also give you some tips on how to prevent injury during muscle recovery.
Why Is Muscle Recovery Important?
When you exercise, you cause tiny tears in your muscles. The recovery period is the only time that your muscles can heal these injuries. So it’s crucial to let your body recover after a workout.
Also, while working out, your body builds up lactic acid in your muscles, which causes muscle soreness and tiredness. If you don’t let your muscles recover, you may injure yourself.
Ways To Improve Muscle Recovery
There’s no definitive way to relieve the muscle soreness right away, but these treatments can boost your muscle recovery and help you get back to your workout routine.
Any type of training causes muscle damage. So after exercising, your body forms new muscles and fills the damaged tissues with protein. Having a post-workout snack containing protein and carbohydrates can provide the nutrition your body needs to repair this muscle injury.
You can prepare smoothies or have some fruits with yogurt to recharge your energy stores after a workout.
Eating almonds, tofu, and chickpeas as a source of protein may also help maximize muscle recovery.
Drinking water after a workout can help you get rid of your body toxins and prevent dehydration, which leads to painful muscles.
Make sure to drink a couple of liters of water during your exercise day.
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Warm Up And Cool Down
Warming up increases your blood circulation and your heart rate, preparing your muscles for the upcoming exercises. It also reduces the risk of injury by ensuring that your muscles are getting enough blood and oxygen. So when you warm-up, you’ll experience less muscle fatigue and strain.
On the other hand, cool-down exercises also help your muscles eliminate the lactic acids that build up during workout time. Fewer lactic acids means less intense muscle soreness and expedite the recovery process.
Creatine supplements are popular for improving strength and increasing muscle mass. But they also help promote muscle recovery by reducing muscle inflammation and supplying your muscle’s glycogen stores.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs like Advil and Aleve can ease the feeling of discomfort and reduce muscle inflammation after a high-intensity exercise.
However, it’s not recommended to use them consistently; instead, only take these medications for very severe muscle soreness.
Antioxidant supplements like fish oil and curcumin, found in turmeric, may also help with muscle recovery.
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Massage Therapy And Stretch
Massage helps relax your muscles and prevents tension build-up, boosting the recovery period.
Also, foam-rolling—a kind of massage— before a workout can maximize your training performance. When done on rest days, it helps ease any muscle discomfort and supports muscle recovery.
Watch this video to learn how foam rolling helps during recovery time:
Stretching exercises also help mitigate the post-exercise muscle discomfort, improve flexibility, and shorten the recovery period. Consider stretching for five to ten minutes before and after exercising.
Rest And Sleep
Letting your body rest and sleeping more can be an effective way to give time to your muscles to recover. As we mentioned earlier, your body repairs the muscle injury caused by working out. Many muscle repairs and buildings happen when you’re sleeping.
Sleeping also helps reduce the body’s inflammation reaction and produces the growth hormones that support muscle growth.
Active recovery—doing light workouts during the recovery phase—helps boost your blood flow and comfort your muscle tension after exercise.
You can include yoga, walking, and swimming in your routine as light workouts that promote muscle recovery.
Active recovery gives your body the adequate rest it needs without being completely inactive. While passive recovery—rest and sleep—help with muscle fatigue. So make sure to have both in your recovery period.
Contrast bath therapy involves repeatedly taking cold and hot baths. This change of temperature alters your heart rate and boosts muscle recovery.
Cold baths help ease the inflammation caused by high-intensity workouts and support muscle recovery by reducing the blood flow to the damaged area.
On the other hand, a hot bath increases the blood flow to your muscles, giving them more nutrients and oxygen to repair the damage. It also helps soothe muscle soreness and maximizes muscle recovery by reducing the amount of lactic acid in your muscles.
Wearing compression garments promotes blood flow, providing the needed nutrients to repair muscle injury and speed muscle recovery.
It also helps reduce post-workout inflammation and soreness. These garments can be more effective if worn 12 to 48 hours after exercising.
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Depending on the workout you’ve done, you can wear a full-body garment or muscle-specific ones like sleeves, socks, and leggings.
Things To Avoid During Muscle Recovery Period
Your emotional and mental wellness can affect your muscle recovery. When you’re stressed out, your body concentrates on the stress response, thereby delaying muscle recovery.
Stress also impacts your sleeping and eating pattern and, ultimately, your general well-being—all can influence your immune response, which is necessary for muscle recovery.
Mindfulness and meditation techniques can help reduce stress.
If you keep working out intensely without enough resting, you worsen your muscle soreness and linger muscle recovery.
Self-monitoring is essential to notice overtraining symptoms like extreme muscle soreness after exercising, less quality sleeping, and a weak immune system.
Alcohol And Tobacco
Consuming alcohol after exercising can minimize your body’s ability to restore the needed protein to repair muscle injuries. It also impairs the process of glycogen replenishing in your body after an intense workout.
Smoking tobacco also weakens your musculoskeletal system—including your muscles, joints, and bones— slowing down the muscle recovery process.
How To Prevent Injury During Muscle Recovery?
Alternate training can be beneficial to increase your muscle recovery period between sessions.
Incorporate different workouts into your workout program to engage alternate muscle groups. Design high- and low-intensity workout days.
For example, if you’re working out with weights, work your back and biceps on Mondays, do chest and workouts on Wednesdays, and engage your legs and core on Fridays.
This kind of workout schedule helps prevent injury and gives your muscles an entire week to recover.
If you have no progress in your fitness level or your muscles are constantly painful and inflamed, you need to spend more time recovering. If the pain still exists, get help from a professional.
Exercising can cause tiny tears in your muscles. If you don’t let your muscles recover and repair these damages, you may put yourself at the risk of muscle injury. Having a healthy diet and getting enough sleep are great ways to maximize your muscle recovery. But other treatments can also help to get back to your workout routine sooner.
Last update on 2021-10-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API