After a hard workout we often feel sore due to delayed onset muscle soreness. Often, if we work out hard enough, this soreness is so severe that we do not want to get back into the gym! We often emphasize on working out hard in the gym, but we forget that muscles grow when we are resting and recovering. That being said, planned recovery and rest are just as important as the workout.
Here are a few good ways to help speed up your recovery.
1 - Foam Rolling.
Foam rolling after a workout is critical. By stimulating blood flow to your muscle it can help speed up recovery. Also, by working your muscles you are able to help your muscles relax and work out the lactic acid developped from your workout.
2 - Ice bath.
Taking an ice bath is a great way to force your body to cool down and draw out the lactic acid from your muscles. Often, high levele athletes after an intense training session with jump into an ice bath for arond 10 minutes to speed up recovery. Today, this has been taken a step further with businesses offering services that offer “Deep Cool” recovery.
3 - Proper Warm-Up.
Often we rush into our work-out without properly allowing our bodies to warm up. Imagine a car that on a winter day, before you can start revving the engine, you need to let it warm up. The same happens with your body. Without a proper warm up to get your blood vessels ready to expand, muscles ready to take additional load you can easily damage yourself and be sore for an extended period of time.
4 - Proper Cool Down.
After you work your body it's important to cool down properly to allow your muscles to relax, and return back to their normal state. Muscles that are worked will be fatigued and can stiffen up, so it's important to stretch, and to foam roll to help them relax. In addition, a proper cool down allows your nervous system to go from an heightened state to a relaxed state.
5 - Proper Hydration.
Exercising while dehydrated is very dangerous and can cause harm to your muscles. Your body is made up of liquids, and in order to keep functioning well it needs to be hydrated. Before working-out drink at least 2 cups of water and depending on the intensity of the work out you may need to drink up to 3 - 4 cups.
6 - Epsom Salt Bath.
A warm epsant salt bath helps prevent inflammation and irritation in your joints and muscles. In addition, your body can absorb additional magnesium through the salts. Your muscles will naturally relax, and this is a great way to help you relax before a good night sleep.
7 - Registered Massage/Deep Tissue Massage.
Anytime you workout your muscles can get tense from the additional stress you place on it. A massage is a great way to help relax your tense muscles. A massage also stimulates blood flow and speeds up recovery.
8 - Stretching.
After a workout your muscles will be tense and will naturally shorten. It is important that you stretch and re-lengthen these muscles so that it does not cause any possible issues down the road. This also promotes blood circulation so that you pull the lactic acid out of your muscles.
9 - Eat Potassium, and Protein Dense Foods.
When you work out you are forming tiny micro tears in your muscles. In order for your body to rebuild these muscles you need nutrients such as protein. Its important to remember that we need electrolytes to prevent muscle cramps. One of the four is potassium and can be obtained from coconut water or bananas.
10 - Supplements.
Although this subject is debatable, I personally believe in supplements, but only to act as a way to supplement my diet. It is extremely difficult to attain all the nutrients that your body requires for recovery when working on a busy schedule. Sometimes, we can help by taking a multivitamin or a protein drink or green juice.
11 - Quality REM Sleep.
When we rest we allow our body to heal. Specifically, this healing is completed in our REM sleep (deep sleep). Typically, we begin REM sleep after 2-3 hours of sleep, so its important that you give yourself a good nights rest in order to allow your body to recover. If you find yourself sore for an extended period of time, try to give yourself a Epsom Salt bath followed by a solid night (8 hours) of sleep.
Mike Zhang is a fitness, health and striking coach. With over 10 years of experience as an athlete and personal trainer he possesses a vast amount of information pertaining to weight loss, nutrition, boxing/kickboxing and overall fitness. He was the 2011 TBA-SA B-Class Champion, 2014 USMTO Open Class Silver Medalist and York Muay Thai Athlete of the Year in 2014. He worked as a personal trainer at a local commercial gym and assistant coach at his Muay Thai gym. He is also the founder of the FSK12, the 12 week innovative program based on the training methods of elite strikers. To see the complete program visit the link here.