How to Speed Up Post-Workout Recovery
It's wonderful to walk away from a workout knowing you did a good job, and a bit of soreness in your muscles is usually a good indicator of success. However, too much soreness can prevent you from working out the next day and can even hamper your mobility. If you want to know how to speed up post-workout recovery, here are a few things to try:
The majority of the repairs made to your body are done overnight. When you sleep, your body isn't using energy, so it can focus on repairing the damaged muscle tissue and replenishing the energy burned throughout the day. A solid night of rest (anywhere from 7 to 8 hours) will help you to wake up refreshed and recovered. Make sure to rest well after a hardcore workout, and you'll end up far less sore the next day.
Water plays a major role in your recovery process. Drinking more water will help to prevent dehydration, and can restore a lot of the energy you lost during the workout. It will also flush toxins and lactic acid from the muscles to prevent soreness. You should try to drink at least ½ to 1 liter of water within an hour of your workout. Make sure to drink at least 2-5 liters of water per day. The more you drink, the less your risk of muscle soreness!
Active recovery is an interesting way to reduce soreness. Basically, it involves very light training that engages the muscles that were just used. You can go for a light jog to help recover from a hardcore lower body workout, or swim for a few minutes to cool down your upper body. The flow of blood to your muscles will encourage faster recovery and eliminate the lactic acid that leads to muscle soreness. Just make sure the activity is light enough that it doesn't work the muscles hard, but just gets the blood flowing.
Icy Hot is just one of the pain-relieving creams that can help to speed up recovery. These topical creams will speed up circulation to the muscles and add heat that will reduce pain. You can try them after an intense workout or even the morning after if you feel the muscles aching.
If you're really worried about sore muscles, try taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like aspirin or Advil. These medications can curb the pain in your muscles, especially if you have acute pains caused by a minor muscle injury or strain. However, it's not a good idea to use them regularly.
For those who have pushed their bodies to the limits of endurance, an ice bath can be the perfect recovery option. The ice will reduce inflammation, which in turn will reduce soreness. It's a form of injury treatment that can be highly effective at combating muscle soreness.
Having a carb-heavy, protein-rich snack before your workout can provide the energy your body needs to fuel your muscles. Eat 200 to 400 calories worth of carbs and protein 90 minutes before you hit the gym.
Having a protein shake after your workout will provide your body the amino acids needed to repair your muscles. If you work out at night, try a combination of whey protein (quick-acting for immediate repairs) and casein protein (slow-acting for long-term repairs as you sleep). For a morning or afternoon training session, follow it up with whey or egg protein. The amino acids will get your body working on repairing any muscle damage and will prevent soreness.