Just as having planned fitness routines and schedules is paramount for muscle-building success, you should also have a plan for muscle recovery. Your post-workout recovery efforts provide an opportunity to nurture the muscles and ligaments that have just been through a tough workout.
When you perform an extreme workout, your body’s muscles experience a series of micro-tears and contractions. While this sounds like the opposite of helpful, it’s actually a necessary process in order for your muscles to grow stronger and more prominent. Once your muscles have completed the repair process, they’ll be in even better (and larger) shape than ever before.
Because the recovery process can impact your workouts’ results, it’s important that you nurture this time period for your muscles in a productive way. Not only can you reduce muscle pain from working out by prioritizing recovery, but you can also better your growth results and potentially enhance your overall performance.
To help you on your road to recovery, we’ve compiled 15 muscle recovery tips for use before and after your workout that can prove essential to any fitness routine.
1. Get Some Rest
Rest can be your fitness routine’s best friend. By allowing yourself to rest in between sets and workouts, you’re allowing your muscle groups adequate time to repair themselves. Be sure to allow yourself a few minutes after every set is completed to rest before moving on. It would be best if you also threw in some rest days in your weekly workout schedules.
2. Eat More Protein
Protein is one of the most essential nutrients there is when it comes to muscle recovery. Protein is one of the critical elements that build muscle, cartilage, skin, blood, and bones in your body. Unfortunately, your body does not create its own protein stores, which means it’s even more important to supplement your protein intake when an extreme fitness routine is being followed. Try consuming protein both before a workout and after a workout to maximize your growth results. You can also try eating some protein right before bed. Healthy proteins you may consider eating are:
- Lean fish
- Lean chicken breast
- Cottage cheese
- Lean turkey
- Lean beef
3. Drink Water
Keeping your body hydrated is one of the best things you can do for muscle recovery. When you workout, your body loses a lot of fluids. By intentionally replacing these fluids, your body’s metabolic function and other processes can be improved. Fluid replacement can help your body process muscle recovery much quicker.
4. Get a Massage
Massages are excellent for increasing your body’s blood flow and easing muscle tension. By getting massages, you can promote better and faster muscle recovery while also reducing any muscle soreness and tightness.
5. Eat for Recovery
It’s crucial that you keep your body fueled during fitness routines. Eat with the intention of promoting your body’s wellness during exercise and improving your overall results. As mentioned earlier, consuming protein is vital to your muscle recovery. But there are other food groups that can help with muscle recovery as well. For instance, foods rich in carbohydrates are excellent for boosting your energy, and antioxidant-rich foods are great for reducing inflammation.
6. Wear Compression Garments
Because compression garments can help restrict your muscle’s movements and increase blood flow, you may find that using them helps improve muscle soreness much faster.
7. Keep Moving
Studies have shown that promoting continued and light muscle-movement following exercise can help with recovery. Activities like walking, swimming, jogging, dancing, yoga, and more can help improve your muscle recovery efforts and potentially reduce pain.
8. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Consuming alcohol can dehydrate your body, which isn’t a good thing after exercise. Your body’s protein synthesis can also be impacted through alcohol consumption; because protein is essential for muscle growth and recovery, this can have a negative impact on your fitness results.
9. Use Hot and Cold Therapy
When you’re trying to reduce some of the soreness associated with muscle recovery, hot and cold therapy just might do the trick. Warm compresses can help increase blood flow and loosen tension, and cold compresses can decrease inflammation. Just be careful not to exert too much heat or cold directly on your skin, as doing so can cause injury or potentially negatively impact your muscle repair.
10. Take an Epsom Salt Bath
Epsom salts are another common method for relaxing muscles following a strenuous workout. Some studies have found Epsom salts to help with pain related to muscle recovery. Try soaking in a warm bath for a while following your workout.
11. Sleep More
When you get the proper amount of sleep, your body’s systems have the energy to optimally perform necessary processes. Be sure that you’re getting enough sleep at night and take naps as you can – your muscles will thank you.
12. Always Stretch
Stretching before working out will help loosen your ligaments and prepare your muscles for exercise. Many fitness enthusiasts find that pain can be reduced following regular stretches. Your muscles may also have an easier time repairing themselves and growing following a balanced stretch and workout.
13. Try Using Rollers
If you’re trying to promote balanced muscle structures and pain reduction, foam rollers might just do the trick. Rolling your muscle areas with a foam roller can help smooth knotted areas and balance your muscle growth.
14. Try Taking a Cold Bath
If you’re looking to reduce muscle inflammation following a workout, try taking a cold bath. Cold water immersion has become popular with many professional athletes for pain prevention and muscle recovery. Some athletes have even been known to add ice to their cold bathwater.
15. Push Yourself, But Not Too Hard
While it’s expected that you’ll be pushing yourself during you’re workout routines, it’s vital that you don’t overdo it. When you push your body too hard during exercise, it can lead to injury. By working your training and goals around a gradual progression in weight and intensity, your muscles have a better chance of reaching optimal growth levels. You also have a better chance of avoiding unnecessary injury.