5 Steps for Faster Muscle Recovery
So, you’ve set yourself a lifting goal and you’re training hard to get there. You’re hitting your targets and smashing out your reps but are you making time for recovery?
Recovery days may seem like something you don’t even need. After all, how can resting help you reach your fitness goals? Surely the point is to stay active?
Recovery is essential if you want to continue improving. A car can’t keep going without fuel much like your body can’t keep pushing without recovery.
At some point, you’re going to find your muscles feel fatigued and your motivation is ebbing.
Having a well-crafted Recovery Plan alongside your training routine will help you smash your goals.
Skipping recovery can hinder your progress as your muscles don’t get enough time to heal. Without recovery, the risk of injury increases. An injury can put your training plans on hold indefinitely.
Post Workout Recovery should be included in every workout plan.
Read on for 5 easy ways to reduce your post-workout muscle ache and decrease recovery time.
1. DRINK UP
Staying hydrated is essential whether you’re working out or not. Our bodies are 60% water and many of us are guilty of not drinking enough throughout the day.
You should be hydrating before and during your workouts, but re-hydrating, when you’ve finished a sweat session, is so important.
When you’ve finished with your workout make sure to drink plenty of water. Don’t gulp it all down at once though or you run the risk of feeling sick and bloated.
Dehydration causes muscle fatigue, poor performance, headaches, and a host of other problems. These issues can be avoided by replenishing your water stores.
2. GET A MASSAGE
Sports massages are a wonderful thing. Specifically designed to target the areas where lactic acid build-up is going to cause you discomfort the next day. They can release the tension and help to speed up your recovery.
Unfortunately, getting a sports massage at the moment is tricky, and can be expensive.
There are other options that can give you the same results in terms of muscle recovery, and you don’t even have to leave the sofa.
Massage Guns like that from Pulseroll are a brilliant percussive therapy solution. A simple, hand-held device that massages your muscles, increases blood flow, and encourages your body to get rid of all the lactic acid it's stored.
It’s a handy little massage tool and works to prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). DOMS usually kicks in 24-72 hours after a tough workout and can be very uncomfortable.
The Theragun Massage Guns, in particular, pair with an App, which even offers guidance and protocols for recovery, tailored to your own workout preferences. Genius.
You can also use it pre-workout to stimulate your muscles ready for your training session. It’s the perfect addition for any lifting workout.
3. BE A LITTLE LAZY
Yeh...we just said that. When you’re training it’s so important that your body recovers and the best thing for recovery? Sleep and rest.
All of us are guilty of spending a little too long watching just one more episode of that new TV series. Or scrolling through social media for a smidge longer than we should.
Try and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep for optimum muscle recovery. A nap or two won’t do any harm either.
Having a good sleep routine has many health benefits and has been tied to mental, as well as physical, health. Don’t brush off the importance of good quality kip.
Refuelling after a workout is a no-brainer. Almost everyone who trains has a goal-oriented nutrition plan. Even if you don’t, refuelling your body is key to post-workout recovery.
If you lift weights you might need more protein, if you run a lot you could need some fast action glucose.
Knowing what your body needs to keep hitting your targets, and performing to the best of its ability, is essential.
There are plenty of debates about when and how much you should eat post-workout, but it depends on what works for you and your body.
If you’re not staying on top of your post-workout nutrition, you’re going to find recovery time is much longer. You'll feel tired, achy, and likely to demotivated.
Ensure you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet tailored to your training needs. Include healthy snacks and balanced meals in your training plan. These will top up your energy stores so your muscles can begin repairing themselves with minimal fatigue and pain.
5. STRETCH (MAKE TIME FOR ACTIVE RECOVERY)Many of us tend to brush off stretching as an unnecessary, and time-consuming, addition in our already busy lives. This is a mistake.
Stretching encourages flexibility, blood flow and reduces the tension that builds up in your muscles after a workout.
There are many ways to incorporate stretching into your weekly workout routine and you don’t have to opt for the classic static stretch.
Including Active Recovery Days in your week is a brilliant way to encourage your muscles to recover faster.
Active Recovery consists of light activities that encourage your blood to flow. These workouts aren't intense, so they don't put extra strain on your already tender muscles.
Using Power bands and Resistance Bands for stretching, are perfect for low-impact recovery days.
Once you have them, you can also use them for strength training so they’re a worthy investment. They’re great for increasing flexibility when you stretch. You can also use them for resistance workouts. These are lower impact sessions that encourage that all-important blood flow.
Include a good cool-down after each workout to help your muscles recover. A cool-down helps your body to shed the chemical build-up that causes DOMS.
On your Rest Days throw in a gentle Active Recovery Workout. This could be Yoga, Swimming, a brisk walk, or a gentle Power Band session. You’ll soon see what a huge difference it makes to your recovery time.
The single most important thing to remember is to listen to your body. Take the time to understand what your body is telling you.
If you’re feeling more fatigued than usual, or your muscles are sore, take an extra recovery day. Don't push through the pain and risk injury.
Recovery is as important as getting your sweat on. Looking after your body takes priority over any fitness goal you might have.
Let us know in the comments below how you include recovery in your weekly routine. Do any of the above steps make a difference to how you feel after a training session?