We are all about working hard in the gym — and we know that you are too! But to continue to perform to the best of your ability, it is absolutely essential to put the same level of care into your workout recovery. Use the tips below to stay consistent in your routine, prevent injury, reach your goals, and feel great!
Don’t Skip the Cool Down
If you dash out of group fitness classes just as the cooldown begins (you know who you are) consider sticking around! You wouldn’t just dive right into a heavy lift or an all-out sprint without warming up first, would you? The same principle applies to cool down, which will help you avoid unnecessary soreness and increase your flexibility while your muscles are warm and mobile. If you sometimes feel dizzy after a tough workout, cool down is especially important to re-circulate blood that may have pooled in your lower body.
Get in a healthy meal or snack within two hours of finishing your workout. Experts tend to recommend foods high in protein to rebuild tissue, foods high in carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores, and potassium-rich foods to prevent muscle cramping and soreness. And don’t just reach for bananas! Spinach, sweet potatoes, avocado, and salmon are among the other foods touted for their high potassium content. We also love smoothies because you can throw the ingredients together before the gym, stick the blender cup in the freezer, and just blend when you get home. Here are a few unique and delicious smoothie recipes that are also low in sugar!
Roll it Out
When you can, reward all of your hard work with a massage to reduce inflammation in the body and improve cell repair. In between professional massages, you can reap many of the same benefits with a simple foam rolling routine. Foam rolling is excellent for easing muscles soreness, stretching the fascia, increasing circulation, and promoting lymphatic drainage. Also, foam rollers aren’t just a tool for cool down — use them for a gentle and dynamic warm-up for your muscles before a workout!
Catch Some Zzzz’s
As with almost every other aspect of your health, quality sleep is essential for optimal workout recovery. To the best of your ability, commit to an early bedtime after a tough workout. If you’re in a phase of life that won’t allow for more sleep, focus instead on proper sleep hygiene to make the most of the hours you have. Consider eliminating all light in your bedroom, taking a warm Epsom salt bath, and setting the temperature to around 65 degrees Fahrenheit to optimize sleep. Add in this gentle five-minute foam rolling routine (another way to incorporate our last tip) to unwind tight muscles and create deep relaxation before bed.
Active recovery is essentially low-intensity exercise. Break up your tough workouts with days of lighter activity to heal muscle tissue and flush lactic acid without losing your fitness momentum. When you are starting a consistent routine, shoot for just one or two intense workouts per week and an active rest every other day. As your endurance builds, you will be able to tolerate more intensity. Casual walks, very light cardio, and meditative yoga are excellent active rest options.
And When You Need an INactive Rest day — Take It.
Even with active rest, here and there you will need a day where you don’t get off the couch. When your body needs a sedentary day, you will feel it. Your fitness journey needs to be lifelong, so practice resting one day and then lacing up your sneakers again the next.
Do you have any favorite techniques for workout recovery? Share them with us when we see you at AAC for your next workout.