Working out regularly is one of the major keys to achieving peak physical fitness. However, if you want to get into the best possible shape and avoid injuries, allowing your muscles some time to recover is essential.
4 Steps for Post-Workout Muscle Recovery
- Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration is associated with muscle fatigue, reduced performance, and other complications.
- Get a good nights sleep. Lack of sleep can greatly hinder the course of your muscular recovery and reduce overall performance. Try to get 7-9 hours per night if able.
- Focus on your protein intake. Try getting your daily intake of protein from whole foods such as eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and lean cuts of meat. These versatile ingredients make great snacks or full meals that will help with your recovery.
- Plan your rest days accordingly. When it comes to rest days, the general rule is to maintain a healthy gap of 48 hours between workouts. Never forget about stretching, especially during recovery days. In time, this habit will help with your muscle recovery.
While stretching probably won’t make you less sore the next day — by this point, the microscopic damage that causes sore muscles has already happened — research suggests that it helps improve blood flow to the limbs you stretch. The blood delivers nutrients and oxygen to the affected muscles, helping aid in recovery and rejuvenation. It’s also associated with helping your nervous system calm down, which isn’t surprising to anyone who’s practiced gentle yoga. This relaxing effect will help slow your heart rate down, and one study showed that over time static stretching decreases heart rate variability (how fast your heartbeat returns to normal after exercise). Although all this warming up and cooling down may seem like a waste of time, properly easing into and out of your strenuous activity is vitally important for warding off injury and decreasing stress on your heart and other organs. So, if you’re really crunched for time you might want to consider shortening the actual workout. Your health and wellbeing will thank you in the long run.