If you think you build muscle while you are in the gym— you are wrong. You tear muscle fibers in the gym and repair/grow stronger muscle while you rest. So allowing your body time to recover after exercise is just as important as the actual exercising and not doing it is an easy mistake to make. If you follow a workout programme there will be rest days and if you don’t, you should be having them. I’m sure we’ve all been there, where we do a workout and then have sore muscles for the next couple of days. I quite like a little bit of tightness after I exercise as it feels like I’ve actually done something, but not so much that it hurts to walk. And I know it’s bad when I can’t stand the toddler climbing onto my lap for a cuddle. Over the last year since I have been regularly exercising I have found these 5 ways to help recover after exercise and avoid most of the soreness.
Make sure you warm up before you exercise and cool down after with stretches. Your body produces lactic acid when you exercise which makes your muscles tired and sore, but stretching helps to eliminate the lactic acid. If you often suffer from back pain, try stretching the hamstrings and hip flexors, the muscles that are attached to the pelvis.
If you can, add yoga to your weekly exercise routine to help recover after exercise. Try dynamic yoga for more of a workout, or Hatha for a relaxing stretch that will encourage a great nights sleep. At home try and incorporate stretching into your daily routine. You can also add in foam rolling which is great, especially if you have a part of your body that is particularly tight. I’m currently trying to do a little yoga daily as well as my regular exercise.
A lack of sleep can be the enemy of muscle development… but why?
Your body desperately needs rest to help you recover from exercise. When you are well-rested, you perform at your best both mentally and physically. We all know that feeling mid-workout when you want to give up because you are so tired. By making sure you are getting the 8-hour recommend sleep you will feel more energised, be able to work out harder and build lean muscle quicker than if you are sleep deprived.
If you are struggling to get those much needed hours;
Do what the top athletes do and get a sports massage! It might not be as enjoyable as your usual relaxing style of massage, but you should feel better for it. A sports massage helps loosen and soften hard muscle tissue, corrects imbalances, improves mobility, and releases tension. It also reduces the muscular pain you feel called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, promotes relaxation, releases endorphins when some of the knotty nodes are targeted and can help to boost overall performance.
Your diet and especially protein is important for anyone who is hitting the gym, playing sports, running or doing any other form of exercise. It’s not just for bodybuilders! Anyone who is exercising is going to need more protein than someone who doesn’t. This is because when you exercise, you are effectively tearing and breaking muscle fibres apart, which then need to be repaired by the body, requiring protein to do so. If you are exercising but find yourself with low energy or feel that you are not building any muscle, it may be down to not having enough protein in your diet. Have a look at a Macro calculator to work out the ideal amount protein you should be eating. You may be surprised at just how much! Then make an effort to eat more protein, or consider eating protein bars and/or shakes to help hit your daily protein goals, to feel better and get more out of your workout.
If you want to look, feel and train better? Drink more water…
If you suffer from muscle cramps, dizziness, or fatigue after exercise chances are you aren’t drinking enough water. In one hour of exercise the body can lose more than a quarter of its water. Dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and loss of coordination. Without an adequate supply of water the body will lack energy and muscles may cramp. So make sure you drink before, during and after a workout.
Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Tempur.