When we exercise, we’re putting our bodies through a traumatic experience. Thousands of micro-tears to our muscles, intense fatigue, a depletion of our glycogen stores, dehydration and more.
You have a lot to do to get your body ready for the next day’s training. You can’t just wake up the next day and assume you’ll automatically be ready to go at 100 percent efficiency. So here are a few tips that can accelerate your recovery, allowing you to be less sore, more energetic and ready to get after it as soon as possible!
Hydrate: In addition to the eight cups of water per day that your body needs for proper function, keep in mind that you might sweat out an additional 16-64 ounces of water during the course of your workout. So be sure to immediately start replenishing fluids when you begin training.
Recovery drinks: Once your workout is over, you want to start replenishing as quickly as you can. Remember those micro-tears? You want as much time for your body to repair those as possible. Consuming a post-workout drink that includes protein and BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids) will kick start that recovery process. Additionally, you’ll have used a great deal of your fuel reserves, so carbohydrate intake is critical as well. Aim for a ratio of 3:1 carbohydrates to protein after your workout to replenish and rebuild.
Compression gear: Post workout your muscles will begin to tighten up. The next day, you may even be so sore that you struggle to get out of bed. The muscles get very tight as they repair themselves. So keeping the muscles warm will keep them more supple and help maintain your range of motion, enabling you to train the next day. It can also improve circulation, bringing critical nutrients to your muscles in greater supply. Sleeping in compression gear can be helpful for the muscles for a gentler wakeup and if you’re still tight when you get to your training session, wearing them can keep you more mobile as well.
Roll/massage/stretch: In the same vein as utilizing compression gear to stay loose, foam rolling, self-massaging and stretching are key to prepping your body for the next day. Rolling and massage are good for both breaking up the knots that can form in your muscles once recovery begins, as well as loosening up your fascia, the layer that surrounds your muscles. Imagine taking a handful of the sleeve of your shirt and twisting it. Your arm doesn’t move so freely when it’s all wound up. Now release that sleeve and your range of motion returns. Proper muscle function requires this. Stretching, the age-old technique, does a quality job of loosening the deep muscle but you’ll need some assistance from pressure-based techniques like rolling and massage to maximize the benefits.
Active recovery: One of the most overlooked aspects of recovery is what we call “active recovery.” Most people finish a workout and the next morning they wake up to incredible soreness and say, “There’s no way I can train today.” That, is the biggest mistake you can make. Your soreness will only get worse as your muscles tighten throughout the day. Active recovery is about pushing through the first few minutes of discomfort on another session of some kind and finding that the exercise makes you limber and loose and feeling better than ever.
Great forms of active recovery include yoga, running, swimming, cycling and more. None of these forms of workout should be used exclusively, but instead are really quality bounce-back days to allow your body to prepare for its next difficult effort, while building some light cardiovascular or flexibility fitness.
Training hard and being unbelievably sore do not necessarily have to go hand in hand. Utilize a few rapid recovery tips and you’ll find your body bouncing back quicker, more energized and ready to for your next session.