Getting in shape, training for competitions, or just working out intensively to maintain peak physical fitness can be incredibly satisfying. Unfortunately, serious workouts can also leave athletes seriously sore. Read on to find out about 12 ways to speed up muscle recovery after workouts that can reduce soreness and make it easier to reap the benefits of heavy exercise.
Drinking water before, during, and after a workout helps to prevent dehydration and flushes out the metabolic waste produced by heavy workouts. This helps to prevent muscle soreness by ridding the body of toxins and ensuring that dehydration doesn’t get bad enough to cause painful cramps.
While water is just fine for a normal workout, some athletes also choose to drink specialized rehydration fluids. They’re packed with antioxidants and electrolytes, so they can help to rehydrate the body faster and speed up muscle recovery. Learn more online at guardianathletic.com.
Get Some Sleep
A good night’s sleep gives the body time to heal. Athletes who want to avoid excessive soreness and reduce their chances of training-related injuries and complications should aim for a full eight hours per night.
Some also take quick power naps a couple of hours after the workout to give their bodies a little extra time to recover, especially if their schedules don’t allow for a full eight hours of sleep each night.
Eat Plenty of Protein
The muscle damage that causes soreness after a good workout is a part and parcel of getting in better shape using resistance training. When the body repairs muscle tissue after the minor damage incurred by working out, it becomes stronger and larger, but only if the body has plenty of protein available to fuel muscle growth.
It’s not enough to just pound a protein shake after a serious workout. Athletes need to focus on incorporating protein into every meal, from breakfast to dinner, and may want to eat a protein-rich snack before bed. This will give the muscles the nutrients they need to repair themselves quickly and efficiently while athletes sleep, reducing muscle soreness, and improving performance.
Avoid Alcohol After Workouts
Alcohol reduces the synthesis of protein, which can interfere with muscle repair. Any drink with more than 4% alcohol can also delay rehydration, so skip the happy hour and wait until the body has had some time to recover before heading to the bar.
No one is saying athletes can’t go out for a few beers with their friends, but they shouldn’t do it right after a workout and should know that overdoing it can make it harder to build muscle mass.
Get a Massage
Getting a professional massage can help to decrease muscle soreness. Find a massage therapist who specializes in sports massages.
He or she will know the best techniques for reducing post-exercise muscle soreness and improving athletic performance.
Know When to Rest
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery time. Factors like age, fitness level, diet, and workout intensity can all impact how many days it takes for muscles to recover, so athletes should pay attention to their bodies.
If they notice their performance decreasing and their soreness increasing with every workout, that’s a sure sign that they’re not taking enough time to rest.
Try Active Recovery
Athletes who find that they need more than the standard one to two days of rest between strenuous sessions may want to try active recovery so they don’t lose track of fitness goals.
Active recovery involves replacing strenuous workouts with light exercises like yoga or tai chi that won’t put more stress on muscles but will help with keeping in shape.
Take a Cold Bath
Taking a cold bath right after a strenuous workout can reduce inflammation, which can also reduce muscle soreness. This is particularly helpful after resistance training.
On a hot day, a cold, full-body plunge can also feel refreshing and reinvigorating, helping to stave off mental as well as physical fatigue.
Try Compression Garments
Research shows that wearing compression garments between intense workouts may decrease muscle recovery time. Some athletes also wear compression garments during training sessions to enhance acute recovery.
There are a lot of different compression garments out there and they’re all designed for different uses, so make a point of buying products designed specifically for athletes.
Mix Up Some Lemon Juice and Honey
Lemon juice has anti-inflammatory properties, so it can help to reduce soreness after a hard workout. Mix three lemons’ worth of juice with two tablespoons of honey and heat it up.
Dip a clean towel into the mixture and use it to apply the lemon juice and honey to areas that are particularly sore. This technique may sound a bit unusual, but it can help to speed muscle recovery.
Drink Some Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice reduces inflammation and muscle soreness, which helps the body heal faster with less pain. It’s especially effective at preventing delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after strenuous workouts.
Those who don’t love the taste of tart cherries can also purchase dietary supplements that contain this beneficial ingredient.
Get in the Habit of Stretching
Stretching before workouts helps to prevent muscle injuries and can help with soreness. Don’t just stretch on workout days.
Develop a habit of doing it every day, including recovery days, so that it becomes a normal part of the routine and doesn’t feel like a burden.
The Bottom Line
A little soreness after a good workout can feel satisfying, but no athlete wants to spend the better part of a week recovering from every strenuous session and those who push their bodies too far will place themselves at elevated risk of injury.
With the right diet, workout schedule, and lifestyle choices, athletes can cut back on how long it takes their muscles to recover and improve their performance in the gym or on the field. While there’s still no excuse for overdoing it to the point of causing serious muscle damage, following the advice above may allow serious athletes to fit an extra workout session in each week without regretting it in the morning.
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