Can't wait to finish your workout, hit End on the treadmill or collapse onto the couch after your bike ride? You're not alone. But what comes after you put in the effort may be just as important as the exercise itself.
A post-workout recovery strategy is too often overlooked as part of a healthy exercise regimen and long-term success for you fitness journey.
"The recovery period following your workout is just as important as the workout itself. That’s because your body needs ample time to rest in order to repair muscles, replenish energy, and reduce post-workout soreness," says Shape.
Whether you're new to working out or a longtime fitness addict, a key to continued progress in your physical health and to avoiding injury and soreness is a good post-workout plan of action. To get the most out of your workouts, don't forget to include a post-workout recovery plan in your fitness strategy.
6 Post-Workout Recovery Strategies
Your body loses fluids during exercise. When possible, drink water during intense workouts and continue to hydrate after your workout. Coconut water, sports drinks and protein shakes are also popular ways to replenish liquids after a workout.
2. Rest Days
Taking a day or two off between intense workouts lets your body rest and recover. You can engage in some light workouts, such as short walks, easy bike rides or yoga. Called "active recovery," light workouts can help relieve soreness.
3. Cold Tubs
An ice-water bath after strenuous exercise is a traditional post-workout recovery strategy (think of all the post-game locker room scenes where a player is sitting in a bathtub filled with ice cubes). Ice baths have been used to reduce soreness and swelling by constricting the blood vessels and slowing down circulation. Often alternated with heat treatments, cold tubs remain popular after workouts, despite some research that says icing muscles immediately after exercise can hinder muscle fiber growth and delays muscle regeneration.
Post-recovery nutrition helps you refuel and avoid muscle soreness, fatigue and diminished future performances. According to Sports Dietitians of Australia, "the body is most effective at replacing carbohydrate and promoting muscle repair and growth in the first ~60-90 mins after exercise" and recommends that your post-recovery nutrition include foods such as:
- * Fresh fruit salad topped with Greek yoghurt
- * Spaghetti with lean beef bolognaise sauce
- * Chicken burrito with green salad and cheese
- * Small tin of tuna on crackers plus a banana
"During sleep, your body produces Growth Hormone (GH) which is largely responsible for tissue growth and repair," says VeryWellFit, so be sure to get enough shuteye, especially on the days you exercise.
A professional or self-massage will stretch out and relax your muscles and increase circulation after a workout. Tools like foam rollers can help with self-massage and relaxation.
Post-workout recovery is important for professional athletes, weekend athletes and to anyone who is trying to get – and stay – in shape. A solid plan to restore, refuel and re-energize will help you feel better after exercise, improve the quality of your next workout and can prevent injury.
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