Recovery should be an essential part of anyone’s health, whether you’re a gym fanatic or a casual runner. In fact, recovery days are just as important as the days you’ve crushed it. Instead of popping an Advil and trying to make it through, speed up your recovery time, helping your body heal and feel better faster with these tips.
Drink Plenty of Water and Avoid Alcohol
Dehydration impairs the muscles’ ability to repair themselves. If you exercise in hot or humid weather, you’re at an even greater risk of becoming dehydrated, but you’ll want to pay close attention no matter what the climate is like where you live. The American College of Sports Medicine advises drinking 16 to 20 fluid ounces four hours before exercise and drinking water during your workout according to thirst. Post-exercise, aim to drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost.
Skip a post-workout happy hour as alcohol interferes with protein synthesis, which means it can have a negative effect on the body’s ability to repair muscle, and it delays rehydration too.
Plunge Into an Ice Bath
If you can take an ice plunge soon after an intense workout, it can help speed recovery. Ice baths have a positive effect on the central nervous system, helping you feel better and sleep better which can improve your reaction time and performance in future workouts. An analysis of multiple studies on ice baths showed that the best results are enjoyed after soaking in water that ranges between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Get Plenty of Sleep
One reason those ice baths help you recover quicker is that they can improve sleep. Sleep is another important factor in recovery – if you’re deprived, it can have a significant negative effect. Quality sleep provides benefits to the entire body, the heart, lungs, brain, immune functioning, metabolism, and mood. Be sure to get at least seven to eight hours a night on a regular basis, and even more after a tough workout.
Enjoy a Massage
Massages not only feel amazing, but they’re also well-known to help reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Elite athletes use it as their secret weapon for speeding recovery, which is why most NFL, MLB, and NBA teams employ full-time massage therapists.
Eat Protein Before and After a Workout
Be sure to provide the body with the amino acids it needs to rebuild and maintain damaged muscles. They’re the building blocks of tissue, and by consuming protein beforehand, it can trigger the body to begin building more muscle and repairing it during and after exercise. You’ll also want to eat a little something with protein (and carbs) post-workout to aid the body in its repair workout.
Stretching is something that you can’t skip as it’s one of the best things you can do to speed recovery and help prevent future injuries. Be sure to do it on your off days, too, aiming for full-body stretches.
Overtraining will undermine recovery efforts, so you’ll want to design a smart workout routine from the start to help ensure a faster recovery. A lack of rest days or going at it full force every time will ultimately limit your fitness gains too.