If you’re an athlete, you’re intimately familiar with the feeling you get after a hard workout. No matter how satisfying it was, sore muscles, stiffness, and a limited range of mobility are common. These post-workout side effects are the reason it’s so important to maximize your athletic recovery.
Any successful athlete knows the recovery process is just as important as the workout itself to continue performing at peak levels. Without a proper recovery period, you won’t be able to sustain tough workouts, hard runs, or any other intense physical challenges.
What is the Recovery Process?
The National Library of Medicine defines the recovery process as:
- The time period between the end of a bout of exercise and the subsequent return to a resting or recovered state.
- The specific physiological processes or states occurring after exercise that are distinct from the physiology of either the exercising or the resting states.
During this time, your body is delivering nutrients to and repairing the muscles you used. Your timeframe for recovery after an intense workout is dependent on your recovery techniques, or what you do to help your body heal.
Why Do My Muscles Get Sore?
Soreness in muscles after a workout is normal and is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.
Scientists used to believe DOMS was caused by a buildup of lactic acid, but now believe DOMs is caused by microscopic damage to the muscle fibers, leading to soreness.
By having an effective recovery routine, you’re able to optimize your athletic performance by helping your body heal and get the rest it needs to perform its best.
6 Strategies for Athletic Recovery
Adequate recovery can “result in the restoration of physiological and psychological processes, so [you] can compete or train again at an appropriate level.” Here are a few strategies you can incorporate into your recovery process.
One of the most important things you can do for athletic recovery, regardless of the workout, is to stretch. A post-workout stretch improves blood flow to your muscles and helps them stay limber and enjoy a better range of motion.
Anyone who has done an intense workout is familiar with the soreness that comes after you stop moving. Stretching can help alleviate that. A gentle stretch is enough to help your body recover, but if you have the energy for a full yoga flow, your body will thank you. Here’s a link to our other article about “Best Stretches for Hip Mobility” and “5 Best Stretches and Easy Tips for Better Posture” add link here.
Stay hydrated. It’s no secret that a hard workout will leave you sweating- but don’t forget to give back what you sweat out! Hydration keeps your body and cells working at peak performance and can facilitate digestion so you can break down all the protein and nutrients in your meals.
- Massage your muscles
Massaging your muscles is great for recovery because it reduces muscle tightness and pain from inflammation. While a professional massage is undoubtedly the best, it can also get expensive quickly. A self-massage at home can also be helpful to alleviate tension, reduce cytokines levels, and promote relaxation.
You can incorporate products like foam rollers, medicine balls, massage sticks, or self-massage machines along with massage oil or pain balms.
Eat a balanced diet with ample amounts of protein. Getting enough protein is important after a workout because protein fuels your body and workouts. Meat protein is great but you can also rotate beans and nuts into your meals to get balanced sources.
Sleep is an essential piece of the recovery process where your body sends nutrients to areas that need it and rebuilds muscles and ligaments. After a hard workout, consider getting to bed early to give your body extra rest.
- Manage muscle pain
DOMs or “Delayed-onset muscle soreness” normally starts a day or two after a workout. DOMs is a common side effect of working out, but post-workout pain can go beyond soreness. If you had a record-breaking lift session, a PR run time, or an intense hot yoga session, you may need topical pain management to help aid your recovery. Topical products for pain management can include patches, balms, and creams with ingredients like menthol and camphor such as our Full Spectrum Pain Master creams and salves, https://thepainmaster.com/shop/.