Bouncing Back: 7 Ways To Recover From Your Workout
Sore biceps? Tight hamstrings? Walking like a penguin? Can you barely raise your arms to brush your teeth? Contrary to popular belief, these are all signs of a good work out.
The soreness you curse and feel in your muscles after intense physical activity is called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). DOMS occurs when there is microtrauma to the muscle fibers and the muscles adapt quickly to prevent muscle damage. Although DOMS can prevent you from getting up (with ease) from your office chair or the toilet, it is not an excuse to skip your next workout. Muscle groups should be given 48 hours to rest between workouts, so keep your fitness routine dynamic. (You can check this post out for some ideas to boost your fitness routine.)
Although you can’t completely avoid muscle soreness, you can help your muscles recover from your workout and you can prevent injury in seven simple ways:
- Stretch. Stretching your muscles after a workout helps to keep them limber and reduces stiffness the next day. (Weight training strengthens but shortens muscles, so it is important to incorporate stretching into your weekly exercise routine.) Stretching muscles prevent knots which can prevent progress in strength and further injuries.
- Foam roll. (Trigger Point Performance GRID Foam Roller.) This is much more painful than the sore muscles themselves, but one of the smartest and most effective ways to keep your muscles happy and healthy. Foam rolling your muscles (self-myofascial release) after exercise helps to inhibit over-active muscles and relaxes them. By foam rolling, you can find tender areas on your muscles (where a knot may exist) and apply pressure on that area for 30 to 60 seconds. Not only does this help muscle growth, but it prevents injury by stressed out, overworked muscles. (Try foam rolling your IT band along the length of your outer thigh – there may be tears!)
- Take an ice bath. Ice baths help to reduce inflammation in muscles and flushes lactic acid after a long run or intense workout. Switch to warmer water to increase blood flow and circulation to speed up your healing process.
- Add glutamine to your diet. Glutamine is the most common amino acid in your muscles, but the most depleted after exercising and takes the longest to replenish. Adding a teaspoon of glutamine powder to your post-exercise protein shake will help improve your muscle’s recovery time.
- “Slow and steady wins the race.” Most injuries happen when people are reckless. Lift heavy weights but be mindful of your form. Run as long as you can, but take a break when you’re battling a chest cold or it’s icy outside. If it feels unsafe and you don’t feel 100% about it: trust your gut. It’s better to go slow and steady so you don’t put yourself out of commission for longer periods of time.
- Warm up. Do a brisk walk on the treadmill or 50 jumping jacks to get blood flowing to the muscles before lifting weights or running. Cold muscles are like glass that can shatter.
- Take rest days once or twice a week. If you love exercising, this will be difficult. But your muscles will thank you. They deserve a vacation after all the work they’ve done!
How do you let your muscles recover after exercising? How do you prevent injuries?