If you don’t like how you feel after a workout, you won’t keep working out. Further, no one wants to be incredibly sore after pushing things just a little too far. With these tips, you can always make the most of your workout time without feeling it later in the day or week. However, half the battle is fought before your even begin your workout.
1. Don’t Neglect Your Warm Up
Before any workout, you need to warm up. Skipping this step might seem like it does not affect your workout at first, but it can make it harder for your body to recover. When you warm up with any light cardio, yoga, or stretching, your muscles are exposed to oxygenated blood and given a chance to warm up and loosen up. This process potentially increases elasticity just enough to avoid damaging your muscle fibers or causing them to knot up during or as a result of your workout.
2. Plan Your Workouts and Don’t Rush
Don’t try to do too much too soon or overtrain. This is a recipe for not just soreness but also for injury. This is especially true for young athletes and anyone who hasn’t worked out with regularity for some time. You need to give your muscles time to get used to being used.
On the other hand, if you’re already athletic, you still need to take your time and build steadily. Have a plan and stick to it. Going over your limits may seem thrilling at the time, but your body will need extra attention and time to rest after the event.
3. Get Plenty of Rest
Without rest, your body can’t recuperate, full stop. However, while many people advocate two days as adequate rest time as muscle soreness typically peaks about then, there is no definite number of days or hours. Each person is different. Beginners may need more rest than experienced athletes, but the intensity of the exercise regimen also needs to be taken into account.
In any case, if your muscles are still intensely sore, exercise with care to avoid injury. Make sure you get plenty of quality sleep, too. If you have trouble sleeping after a workout, due to soreness or stress, you may want to try the best sleep aid supplement you can find or talk to your doctor.
4. Eat the Right Things at the Right Time
After a workout, while you rest, your body is trying hard to repair the damage that was done during the exercise. To do its job, it needs the right building blocks. In many cases that means two vital nutrients: protein and carbs. You need carbs to replace the glycogen stores and protein for repairs. Fat, on the other hand, while good for you in general, won’t directly help with recovery and rehabilitation in these or any other notable areas.
Further, you need to eat soon after a workout to get this process started off right. While your body can take some nutrients from your fat stores, it needs at least a light snack ideally within 30 to 45 minutes of your workout to rebuild your glycogen stores and start repairs most efficiently.
5. Reduce Stress
Cortisol is the enemy of building muscle and making the most of your workouts. Not only that but cortisol can slow down the recovery process, inhibit the production of positive hormones, and decrease muscle mass overall. Reducing cortisol is part working out the right way (and not pushing things too far, creating more stress), sleeping well (as deep sleep slows cortisol production), and managing life stress as much as possible.
6. Above All: Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation (soreness and swelling) is there for a reason. The more of it you have, the more your body is trying to put the breaks on to prevent an injury. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, the best thing to focus on when recovering from an intense workout is that you must reduce inflammation for your muscles to “heal” and the soreness and other effects to subside. The best ways to minimize minor inflammation form regular exercise are:
- Hydrate – Drink more water or herbal tea.
- Get More Rest – Put your feet up and take care of yourself.
- Eat Right and Eat Enough – Working out and starving your body of what it needs boosts stress and inflammation.
- Ice and Massage – Cooling inflamed areas with ice as well as massaging them to increase circulation should reduce inflammation.