Whether you're a regular gym rat or new to fitness, it's important to challenge yourself in a workout. But it's even more important to listen to your body. Make sure to do a proper warm up, a proper cool down, and take the necessary steps to rest and recover as needed in order to effectively reach your fitness goals and avoid injury.
Here are some recovery tips to try after your next workout...
We know, all you want to do is get off the mat and out of the gym after going hard. But believe us, you'll be thankful tomorrow if you devote a few minutes to stretching. Stretching releases lactic acid buildup in the muscles, meaning less soreness the next day so you can get right back into the game. Plus, regular stretching improves flexibility over time, which leads to more effective workouts.
Many of us focus on getting protein after a workout, but it's also super important to restore minerals lost through sweat. Potassium, sodium, and calcium are vital to muscular energy -- and potassium in particular is likely to hit a low after an intense gym session. Bananas and potatoes are great natural sources of potassium.
It's totally okay to take a day off. But if you feel up to it, "active recovery" may help relieve soreness and keep your energy levels up. Try a little light movement, like going for a walk, playing catch with your dog, or doing a gentle yoga session.
Bodyweight exercises and light cardio after a heavy workout can boost circulation to promote quicker muscle healing and relieve muscle tension.
TREAT YOURSELF TO A MASSAGE
Go ahead and splurge on a professional treatment -- or try some self-massage. Foam rolling is a wonderful way to soothe tender muscles and stimulate blood flow. And essential oils are a wonderful way to deepen muscle relaxation. Try incorporating Elanveda Re-Flex muscle relaxation oil into your massage routine. Warming sesame and ginger oils combined with cooling eucalyptus and peppermint make for the ultimate 100% natural roll-on recovery salve. It's a cult favorite among professional athletes and is used by top professional sports masseuses.
TAKE A BATH
Hot baths and showers are a go-to when it comes to soothing tense muscles after a heavy training session. But did you know that bathing in cold water can be a highly effective form of recovery too?
Cold water brings down the body temperature, lowers the heart rate and constricts blood vessels, which can relieve inflammation in the muscles and reduce fluid buildup, leading to faster recovery. It also numbs the nerve endings, providing fast-acting pain relief.
One study in particular focused on 17 trials with more than 360 people who either rested or took a cold bath after running, cycling, or resistance training. Researchers discovered that cold water immersion was significantly more effective in relieving soreness one to four days after a workout.1 Most of the studies looked at water temperatures between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some experts also believe that alternating cold and hot water can raise oxygen levels in the internal organs and promote detoxification while simultaneously reducing pain and quickening recovery.2
Most people don't get enough sleep. Sleeping is crucial for cognitive reasons as well as general functioning of the body. Sleep is anti-aging, anti-disease, and improves emotional health. Plus, it's especially important on a physical level when you're pushing your body's limits in the gym. Not only is it imperative for your body to shut down in order to restore strength, but it will lead to better energy levels at your next workout, too.
How do you recover after a workout? Let us know in the comments!