Optimal Tips for Recovery Between Workouts
If you suffer from post-workout soreness, you’re not alone. Muscle soreness can happen to anyone, and it can range anywhere from mild to debilitating pain. But there are some things you can do to mitigate the damage and help your sore muscles recover. Check out these optimal tips to help you recover between workouts.
Eat a Healthy Diet
You have to eat between workouts, so do your body a favor and make sure your diet is in line with your fitness goals. Eat a healthy and easy-to-digest breakfast like fruit with yogurt or whole-grain cereals and juice, and if you work out in the morning, try to eat an hour before breakfast. If your method is to work out on an empty stomach, be sure to eat a high-quality protein within an hour after workout out so your muscles have the building blocks they need to recuperate.
For the rest of the day, consume smaller meals that your body can quickly metabolize. Try to make vegetables the center of your meals with a protein and grain on the side. Many athletes find that eating five to six smaller meals throughout the days helps maintain energy, so they are ready for their next workout.
Protein Before Bed
Consuming healthy food throughout the day along with plenty of fresh water can help your body stay healthy and keep the recovery process moving forward. But consuming protein before bed can help muscle repair continue through the night.
Healthy dairy snacks like cottage cheese contain a protein called casein, which releases into your body slowly as you sleep. The amino acids will be used to repair muscle tissue and provide added perks like regulating your immune system. And most importantly, protein before bed will support the recovery process through the night while you fast.
Many people simply don’t drink enough freshwater, but muscles need it to recover. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, at least 16 ounces of water should be consumed before a workout and then about ½ to 1 cup every 20 minutes during your workout, depending on body size and weather. And lastly, replenish with another two cups post-workout, depending on the weather and activity.
Many fitness trainers tout the benefits of electrolytes and advocate sports drinks to replenish the body’s natural electrolytes, which are lost through sweat during exercise. Electrolyte drinks contain charged minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride to help your body replenish and hydrate at the same time
But be mindful of which brand you use. Electrolyte drinks and waters contain minerals while many sports drinks include extra carbs, designed for prolonged exercise or exercise in extreme heat.
Enjoy Proper Rest and Sleep
Your body heals while at rest, and healing from a tough workout is no exception. Exercising creates microscopic tears and other mild damage to muscles, but while your body is at rest, cells known as fibroblasts repair the muscle tissue. This results in the muscles becoming stronger, but not getting enough rest can stunt this process and lead to over training.
Because exercise depletes glycogen levels, rest is necessary to avoid muscle fatigue and helps expedite recovery. This means less soreness to deal with. At the same time, getting proper rest to avoid fatigue ensures you keep good form while working out, so you reduce the chance of injury.
Listen to Soothing Music
Many people listen to music to fire them up and keep a workout going strong. But music can be a great way to recover, as well. Music therapy is used in the recovery of many health issues and is known to help reduce blood pressure, heart rate and help muscles relax more easily. Try listening to soothing music while you drive home or to work after the gym, or try falling asleep to meditation music at night so you wake up refreshed and ready for whatever the next day has to offer.
Try Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice is a potently healing juice that contains a wide variety of nutrients. It has long been used as a home remedy to reduce symptoms of arthritis, promote brain health and even strengthen the immune system.
Fitness enthusiasts can benefit from the wide range of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that are packed into tart cherry juice. In fact, a study posted in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that drinking it for seven days before a strenuous running event (marathon) minimized post-run muscle pain.
Wear Compression Garments
Compression clothing is the latest in athletic apparel for both athletes and those who enjoy recreational sports. Compression garments are tight-fitting pieces of clothing that were originally designed for those with poor circulation.
It has since been found that not only do these garments help with circulation issues, but they seem to relieve soreness and stiffness from exercise while supporting tendons, muscles, and joints to promote good form and posture. Many weekend athletes swear by them to help speed recovery time, enhance recovery and optimize circulation.
Sometimes muscle soreness seems too much to cope with, so some people turn to NSAIDs, or drugs like ibuprofen, to reduce muscle inflammation. But these can slow or inhibit muscle growth. Because of this, some athletes have come to accept the fact that muscle soreness is part of working out. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Herbs like turmeric and cayenne pepper have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce pain. In fact, these herbs are so effective that they are now used in some pain relief creams.
At least one study found that supplementing with curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, helped reduce muscle soreness in legs and reduced inflammation. Another study showed that ingesting capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, reduced both pain and inflammation as well as a common NSAID medication. (1)
Avoid over training and avoid workout burnout by taking care of yourself with active recovery between workouts. It will keep you and your muscles happy so you can reach all your fitness goals.
1 Jolayemi AT, Ojewole JA. Comparative anti-inflammatory properties of Capsaicin and ethyl-aAcetate extract of Capsicum frutescens linn [Solanaceae] in rats. Afr Health Sci. 2013;13(2):357–361. doi:10.4314/ahs.v13i2.23