When you’re an active, sporty individual, you might not think about what your body needs post-workout. However, rest and recovery after exercise is essential to muscle and tissue repair and strength building. After heavy use, a muscle needs anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild, and working it too hard or too soon can cause painful inflammation and tissue breakdown. The routine you implement following exercise has a big impact on your fitness gains and allows you to train more efficiently and effectively.
Unfortunately, most people don’t have an after-exercise recovery plan. Here are some top tips to jumpstart your post-workout recovery.
- Hydrate – You lose a lot of fluid during exercise and ideally, you should be replacing it during exercise, but filling up after exercise is an easy way to boost your recovery. In fact, several days before a hard workout, you should begin hydrating. You’re far less likely to suffer from post-workout dehydration if you prepare in advance.
- Refuel – After depleting your energy stores with exercise, you need to refuel if you expect your body to recover, repair tissue, get stronger and be ready for the next challenge. Ideally, you should try to eat within 60 minutes of the end of your workout and make sure you include a combination of high-quality protein and complex carbohydrate, for example, a peanut butter banana sandwich on whole wheat bread.
- Stretch - After a workout, gentle stretching is a must. This is a simple and fast way to help your muscles recover and is often overlooked. Many people stretch before exercising, but then forget afterward. But as your muscles perform contraction after contraction, they are left in a shortened state. It is necessary to stretch and reset those muscles to their natural state.
- Rest – Time is one of the best ways to recover from just about any illness or injury and this is true after a good workout. Your body has an amazing capacity to take care of itself if you allow it some time. Resting after a workout allows the repair and recovery process to happen at a natural pace. Be sure you get a good night’s sleep following a hard workout as well. Your body is most likely to repair any damage while you are sleeping.