Do not let the heavy workout today ruin the fun of tomorrow. With these tips, you’ll beat pain and fatigue in record time, so you can train even harder!
Training sometimes hurts! Muscles, lungs and heart are loaded when you make a gruelling workout. If you’ve ever done a hard workout for legs, then you know what I mean.
The recovery process takes a long time and sometimes it hurts so much that you cannot even think to go to the gym the next day, ride a bike or even walk. There are things, however, you can do before, during and after training to speed up the recovery process and make it less painful.
Use these 7 rules for recovery to regain activity and to train like champions.
Rule 1 – Warm up
Make sure to prepare your body and mind before the main session. 10 minutes warm-up before exercise helps reduce pain from muscle fever two days later. To prepare your body for a hard workout, do exercises with low intensity before the first sets. Jog on the treadmill, do some bodyweight (without weights) exercises or if you live close enough just walking to the gym instead of driving. A good warm-up only adds 10 minutes to your workout but it will pay off because you’ll feel better the next day. If you plan heavy workout make sure to warm up with a bit heavier weights as well. Make a full range of motion, get good blood circulation in your body and try to prepare your body and mind before you put the big weights on the barbell.
Rule 2 – Drink water
An hour on the treadmill not only bores you to tears but also squeeze a lot of water from your body. Dehydration can cause symptoms such as fatigue, headache and dizziness. Research has shown that dehydration increases the symptoms of stiffness. Therefore, to speed recovery, drink water!
The plan for your hydration should consist of 2 parts: First, drink water throughout your workout. Second, continue to drink and after training. If you want to try something other than water or BCAA, cherry juice is also a good solution.
The ingredients in cherries may reduce inflammation resulting from the load on the muscles, which can help muscles recover faster and even reduce pain caused by training.
Rule 3 – Have a massage
Many studies support massage as a way of reducing soreness, swelling, and recovery of the muscle function. The study posted below found that “the massage resulted in a 20% to 40% decrease in the severity of soreness compared with no treatment in the same individuals”.
If you cannot afford a professional masseuse you can use a foam roller. Apply pressure on the muscles and connective tissue. Select muscle group and put the foam roller below it. Move it a few inches slow and stop, hold a few seconds and continue on to another point.
Massage the body parts that you think are most loaded during the training. 5-10 minute massage of the muscles and tissues that are loaded should be enough. Move slowly, breathe deeply, allowing your body to relax.
Rule 4 – Ice compress
Exposure to cold causes blood vessels to constrict as a result of which a decreased swelling and inflammation is monitored.
Many research studies support the above statement. Stating that immersion in cold water for 15 minutes after a gruelling workout significantly reduced pain in muscles and helps to facilitate their recovery. See references.
Rule 5 – Eat!
The best approach for fast recovery is to eat a mix of protein and carbohydrates immediately after workout. This will help you to reduce the levels of cortisol.
Constant high levels of cortisol – a hormone that is released as a result of stress and lower blood glucose levels – can result in damage to the muscle tissue.
After the workout eats or drinks something that contains up to 1 gram of carbohydrates per 0.5 kg of weight you and 0.2-0.4gr protein per 0.5 kg of your weight. It is also wise to eat something high in protein before bed. A drink containing casein protein before bed increases the synthesis of proteins and amino acids circulating through the night.
Rule 6 – Sleep
During sleep, growth hormone levels in the body are at their highest.
If you do not sleep regularly everything from presentation to your mood can suffer, which could ruin your next workout and ruin what you have achieved so far. Make sure to sleep at least 7-9 hours for optimal recovery.
To fall asleep easier and your sleep to be more complete, invest in a quality mattress, sheets and pillows. The room should be dark with a temperature at around 18-19 degrees Celsius.
Rule 7 – Keep moving
When you are in pain after a heavy workout the last thing you want to do is to ride a bike but do it anyway. Studies show that doing the light exercise right after a heavy workout temporarily relieves symptoms of muscle strain and helps remove lactic acid from the muscles. Stimulation of blood circulation helps reduce stiffness and pain and restoring laxity of connective tissue.
So go ahead, stay active during the days away from the gym. You will recover faster and return to your favourite activities and workouts you love.
Quinn E. After exercise: Does ice water protocols speed recovery? 2008
RES, PETER T. et al. “Protein Ingestion Before Sleep Improves Postexercise Overnight Recovery”. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 44.8 (2012): 1560-1569. Web. 9 Oct. 2016.
Sellwood KL, Brukner P, Williams D, Nicol A, Hinman R. Ice-water immersion and delayed-onset muscle soreness: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Sports Med. 2007;41:392–7.
Vaile J, Halson S, Gill N, Dawson B. Effect of hydrotherapy on recovery from fatigue. Int J Sports Med.2008;29:539–44.
Vaile JM, Gill ND, Blazevich AJ. The effect of contrast water therapy on symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness. J Strength Cond Res. 2007;21:697–702.
Zainuddin, Z. “Effects Of Massage On Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness, Swelling, And Recovery Of Muscle Function”. Journal of athletic training v40(3) (2005): 174-180.