Welcome back folks!
The importance of recovering well after exercise is often seriously underestimated. Recovery is where the magic happens! Although you might be done at the gym , your body is still working hard to repair the “damage” done during exercise in ways that make it stronger and fitter. So if you want to maximise progess and minimize injuries recovering well is essential.
“But how?!” I hear you say? Well I’m glad you asked…here are 5 top tips:
1. Protein- Intense exercise creates teeeeny tiny tears in your muscles. Exercise breaks ’em down and the protein synthesis that happens during recovery builds ’em right back up- a little bigger and therefore stronger (over time that is). This growth process is called muscle hypertrophy (yeeeeeeah science). Your body needs the right tools to do this effectively so try and make a healthy source of lean protein part of that post-workout meal or snack.
Whey protein is one of the most speedily absorbed kinds and is widely available in various forms. Low-fat chocolate milk has also been shown to be good for recovery- the simple carbs help in the protein synthesis process. Quinoa is a good vegan and vegetarian option-look out for my quick and easy chocolate quinoa recipe coming soon!
2. Cool down and don’t skip those stretches- Guilty as charged! I get it: you just finished a tough training session and you’re ready to go home, refuel and put your feet up-you deserve it right? Right! But 10-15 minutes cooling down and stretching out those muscles will likely save you days, weeks, months in recovery time later on when overuse and tight muscles turn into pesky sports injuries. It’s not worth it folks!
Dial down the speed on that treadmill and enjoy a nice leisurly walk or jog and enjoy! Put on your favourite podcast or cool-down playlist and bask in that sense of accomplishment! For your stretches, there are tonnes of fab post-workout stretching videos available on youtube. I also recomend incorporating yoga into your exercise routine for regular thorough stretching and increasing flexibility-bend don’t break! 🙂
3. Rehydrate- Your body functions best when well-hydrated. Your muscles in particular are going to need plenty of water to perform well and recover properly. Amongst other things, dehydration can cause bloating and there’s nothing like feeling puffy and bloated to dampen those post-workout spirits.
Bored of water? Coconut water tastes great and is a fab natural way to replace those all-important electrolytes lost through sweat. Try some herbal or fruit teas-there are endless flavours on offer and many (ginger/fennel/peppermint) deliver extra health benefits too!
4. Cool any injuries- Icing injured and injury prone areas immeadiately after exercise reduces pain and swelling. Try and be consistent. For example, if you know you’re prone to shin splints then consider cooling your shins as a regular part of your post-exercise routine as a preventative measure too.
Cooling bandages and specialist ice packs that can be strapped to the area make this process easier (look out for a review of these Artic Ease Cold Therapy Wraps coming soon).
But if your budget doesn’t allow, never underestimate the power of the humble bag of frozen peas! Cool the injury prone area for 10-20 minutes at a time and be sure to keep a cloth between the ice and your skin (folded up bit of kitchen roll/tea towel etc. will do the job).
5. Nourish- It’s not just protein your body needs to be able to repair itself well. Anti-inflammatory fruits and veg are a great help! Pomegranate seeds and blueberries are two superfood super-yummy options.
Another anti-inflammatory, pro-recovery food is tart cherries. Studies have shown that drinking tart cherry juice before intense exercise can reduce recovery time. Tart cherry supplements are also available.
BONUS TIP- Arnica
I use arnica allllllll the time for relieving my aching muscles. There are loads of arnica products available: gels, creams, bath soaks and salts. I personally like the SBC arnica gel and bath soak and the Kneipp arnica range
I hope this helps! Do you have any recovery tips? What helps you recover? Comment below 🙂
Till next time!