What does the word “workout” mean to you? A session at a local gym? A jog around your neighborhood? A yoga or Pilates class? Whether you’re running laps, lifting weights, or cycling a trail, keep in mind that exercise is more than mere physical activity. Exercise is direct stress on your body, over and over again.
Whatever fitness goals you dream of achieving should come second to taking proper care of your health and well-being during your recovery time. Remember, you should exercise to stimulate and not to annihilate yourself. Let’s take a closer look at a few strategies for maximizing your post-workout recovery.
Hot and Cold: Temperature Treatments
Many people misunderstand when the real magic of a workout occurs. Your body becomes stronger after you sweat—not during the hullabaloo of your session. The secret to achieving real results depends on what you do during the recovery period. Hot and cold treatments are effective strategies to promote your post-exercise healing and rejuvenation. Cold therapy is beneficial for treating pain, swelling, and muscle spasms. Conversely, heat therapy offers numerous advantages for aiding muscle soreness and increasing blood flow to reduce stiffness.
Refuel with Nutrients: Don’t Fear Food Fuel
Even if you feel the temptation to restrict your calories after a tough workout, resist the urge to skimp on food. Instead, be sure to refuel your energy before you end up ravenously hangry with not-so-great cravings later on. A post-workout snack is of the essence to jump-start recovery. Carbs won’t cancel out your exercise efforts. And don’t forget to also rehydrate with water.
Choose real, healthy, and easily digestible foods to keep the good momentum going. Your ultimate goal after exercise is to get some essential nutrients into your body ASAP. Don’t wait too long to eat if you want the most benefit out of post-workout fuel. Front-runner options to help you recover in a timely manner include a balanced meal of whole foods with fruits and veggies or a filling protein shake.
Seriously Stretch It Out
Chances are that you already do a handful of stretches to close out your workout. However, if you currently don’t—or you’re unsure of the best static stretches to try—be sure to add this post-step to your exercise routine. Properly stretching lessens your post-workout pain. Don’t forget about the value of handy home massage tools to reduce acute muscle pain from old injuries or back or hamstrings strains.
Again, optimal recovery goes beyond simple stretches. Pressure is key. Foam rolling is another credible technique to break up scar tissue, loosen muscle tissue, and stimulate blood flow. Gain the upper hand over your workouts by staying supple and prepared. The right recovery strategies are the foundations of achieving your fitness goals and side-stepping possible injuries.