Best Practices for Muscle Recovery

Being sore after a workout can be a rewarding feeling, but being too sore can leave you unable to do your daily activities or get to the gym consistently.  Working your body to the point that you can’t move for the next few days, isn’t helping you stick to your exercise routine.  Muscle recovery is as important as exercise itself, because this is the time where your body can build and repair muscle. Here are some of the best practices to follow when working out to ensure the proper muscle recovery:

1. Hydrate

You should be consuming 8 ounces of water for every half hour of exercise.  Hydration is possibly the most important component of after exercise recovery.  If you are sweating a lot during a workout, or it is especially strenuous, having a sports drink or electrolyte supplement might be necessary.  Hydration will help with muscle soreness, and it will help your cells recover faster.

2. Eat

Having a healthy snack after you work out is essential for muscle recovery.  This helps you in two ways: It replenished the nutrients you lost during exercise, and it prevents an unhealthy binge of food later when your hunger hits. Some combination of carbs and protein is your best option.

3. Stretch

Stretching helps prevent injuries and promote circulation to the muscles for faster recovery. Stretching should be done when the muscles are warm, but before and after a workout can be beneficial. Rolling out your muscles with a foam roller can also help promote circulation and recovery.

4. Ice

After a hard work out you should be icing anything that feels swollen to reduce inflammation and have a quicker recovery.  This becomes even more important after really tough workouts.  Icing helps protect the body tissues and avoid injury that may occur in relation to inflammation.  This is why you see many athletes take ice baths.  All in the name of muscle recovery.

5. Rest

Your body needs time to recover, and taking rest days is the best way to achieve this.  Resting is as important as exercising for athletes.  Without rest, you don’t allow your muscles to recover and put yourself at risk for injury.  Similarly, pushing the limits of your body does not necessarily mean better exercise gains.  By over exhausting your body, you may actually be doing more harm than good. Make sure to plan rest days into your schedule as to not skip over them.