Updated: Dec 3, 2020
What a great workout you just had! Maybe you got a personal record on the mile or championed that back squat. Or maybe it was a regular day of weights and cardio.
Either way, your muscles are fatigued and now it’s time to recover and rebuild.
When we put tension on our muscles (for instance, when we lift weights), we are actually creating microscopic tears. This muscle damage is actually a good thing!
Our bodies adapt and little fibers fuse together to heal the tissue, creating new protein strands within the fibers. These strands increase in both size and strength, helping you on your fitness journey.
But how can we help our recovery along and stave off Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) in the process?
Here are 6 ways to help your recovery!
1. Get a good night’s sleep
You’ve heard it before, but sleep is extremely important when it comes to brain development, stress, muscle recovery, building your immune system, exercise performance… the list goes on.
Your muscles need time to fuse back together and form those extra strands of protein for strength. Get the rest you deserve after a good workout so you can conquer that next personal record!
2. Eat protein
If you are able to, eat a little protein before your workout.
Since amino acids are the building blocks of tissue, getting in some protein before exercising can trigger muscle synthesis (the rebuilding and strengthening of the muscles) as you work out.
Protein is also beneficial after your workout (especially if you weight trained) because your muscles are rebuilding throughout the night and into the next day.
IF you are trying to lose fat in your fitness journey, make sure you consume just enough protein and not more; this can cause neo glucogenesis, or the breakdown of non-carbohydrates to produce glucose.
The protein that’s not used to refuel our muscles gets stored as fat. If you are not on a Ketogenic diet, the fat won’t burn as fast because your main source of energy is carbohydrates.
3. Drink a lot of water
Dehydration can significantly damage both your muscles and the body’s ability to repair itself. Drink a glass of water (or three) to replenish your body and its electrolytes.
4. Take your Magnesium
Did you know that magnesium is a vital mineral our bodies need to relax our muscles? If you magnesium-deficient, you might experience muscle cramps, spasms, muscle soreness, and even poor sleep.
The combined factors of muscle stress and the natural loss of electrolytes during exercise means magnesium replenishment is crucial for muscles and their recovery.
We recommend you take a magnesium supplement, eat more magnesium-fortified foods (cashews, spinach, almonds, etc.), or take an Epsom salt bath after a workout to help your muscles relax and rebuild.
5. Stretch & Roll
Have you seen those cylindrical black tubes in our functional training areas? They are called foam rollers (or just rollers), and they're great tools to get your blood pumping, muscles ready for your workout.
Foam rolling, known as self-myofascial release (SMR), is the act of rolling out your muscles to lengthen them. It’s like you’re making cookies; your muscle is the dough and you’re rolling it out, stretching it so it's ready to bake.
When you roll, you are rolling in the direction of the muscle fibers, lengthening them so they're ready to stretch and contract under tension! Doing this before AND after a workout decreases muscle soreness.
This is especially helpful when you experience tightness. It may be a bit painful at first, but you’ll feel the trigger points (or sore spots) subside and eventually loosen with relief.
6. Try Compression Therapy
Compression therapy is an excellent pre- or post-workout ritual to get your blood circulating and muscles recovering faster.
Lucky for you, you can try compression right here at Craig Ranch Fitness + Spa. The Recovery Center by the club's lobby offers NormaTec Dynamic Compression chairs and sleeves for the legs, hips, arms, and shoulders. Just sit back, hit start, and let the system do its job!
The NormaTec system uses sequential pulsing that mimics the muscle pump in legs and arms, moving inflammation, fat, fluid, and metabolites out, and keeping the fluids from going back in the wrong direction. It can even be used before a workout to warm up the muscles and get the blood pumping.
So, whether you’ve just wrapped up your workout or haven't started yet, try to keep these helpful tips in mind! With them, you'll be on the fast track to better recover those muscles and keep yourself moving on your fitness journey!