Let's talk about "recovery". No, not a hangover recovery. MUSCLE recovery. There's several things that can be contributed to muscle recovery. It's not just after a workout, it's before and during that are all very important.
Most of you think muscle recovery starts AFTER a workout. But actually, it can and should start BEFORE. What I mean is that there are some things you need to do before you start your workout that can help with post workout recovery and soreness.
Food. Ever hear the saying "Food is Fuel"? I truly believe it. Depending on the time of the day and when you workout, I personally feel it's necessary to have calories in my system before training. There are some of you who workout early (and I mean EARLY) in the morning and can workout on an empty stomach. More power to you! I cannot. And if any of you are feeling that your weak in your workouts or just don't have energy, try having a good meal anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours before.
Foam rolling. Start with your calves, work your way up to the hamstrings and glutes, up to your mid & upper back, then flip over and roll your hips, then quads. Take about 5-10 minutes, roll each section anywhere between 3-10 times or until you feel your body is ready to stretch.
Stretch. Stretching and getting your blood flowing will help during and after your workouts. Whether it's bodyweight, light dumbbells or with bands, whichever area of your body you're training make sure you warm them up properly before going into any major lifts. Unwarmed bodies are higher risks for major soreness or even injuries.
Next, muscle recovery can be helped DURING your workout. You're thinking, "ummm, I'm working out...how can you recover in the middle of a workout??" Recovery = Rest. Rest periods during your workout are very important. It is needed to reestablish intramuscular blood flow for oxygen delivery, which promotes replenishment of energy, and regaining of muscle membrane potential. In order for this to happen it requires time/rest between sets and exercises. So many of our clients tend to want to just get through an exercise or a workout, but slowing down and allowing your muscles to recover in proper rest periods between sets can really help get you through all sets and the entire workout. Depending on the types of exercises, style of the program, etc. will depend on what "proper" rest periods are; make sure you follow the program you are on or ask your trainer if you're unsure of what your proper rest periods are.
Muscle recovery is typically known to happen after a workout. There's a few ways that are going to help you:
Food. Like having a meal before the workout, it's important to have food after the workout. Again, "Food is Fuel", and will not only help you in muscle recovery but help you perform the rest of your day. Regardless of before or after the workout, as long as you are having a meal within a 2 hour window around your workout you should be fine.
Foam rolling. Again, as important as it is to foam roll before the workout, it's just as important after the workout. It helps with increasing blood flow and can really help with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).
Hot baths. One of my favorite things to do is to soak in a nice hot bath after a tough workout and helps with muscle recovery. I personally use Dr. Teals Therapeutic Pure Epsom Salt and Dr. Teals Foaming Bath Soap in my hot soaking baths. Light some candles, make some hot tea, put on some relaxing music or a favorite TV show, and relax.
Massages. Sports, deep tissue, relaxation, whatever your preference of massage is great for muscle recovery.
Other options. Cupping, TENS units, heating pads, essential oils, CBD oils/ointments, and I am sure some other great options out there that will help with muscle recover after a workout. I personally like heating pads and oils and ointments, especially on my lower back.
Lastly, REST days are important. No matter what program you are on, how much weight training or cardio you have, you should try to have at least ONE day where you are not in the gym or physically exerting energy. You're body needs rest in order for maximum progress to be made.
I know this sounds like A LOT to do. I'll be honest, I don't do all of these, but I do try to do at least one every day I workout, whether it's foam rolling before, band work before, foam rolling after, or soaking in a bath. I hope this blog helps you in your muscle recovery!
Happy Lifting y'all!
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