There’s nothing quite as rewarding as working hard in the gym and seeing desired changes in your body. Often hard work and dedicated training pays off, but did you know your recovery is just as important? It is easy to underestimate how vital a good night’s sleep, healthy diet and hydration can be for progress and optimum performance.
Here are five ways you can maximise your post-workout recovery.
When you are on a fitness journey many think that going to the gym every day is necessary to achieve results. Whilst we do recommend doing some kind of exercise daily, the body needs time to recover in order to build muscle and become stronger. This is due to the breakdown of body tissue and muscle fibres that happen during a workout. After a strenuous workout the body’s repair process takes between 24-48 hours. This doesn’t mean you have to stop physical activity all together, instead try active recovery, yoga, a walk, swim or bike on your rest days or target an alternative muscle group.
You should also be getting a sufficient amount of sleep, deep sleep is one of the best ways to naturally encourage the production of the human growth hormone. In turn, this can boost your muscle growth and exercise performance.
2. Eat well
Everyone has heard the phrase, ‘you are what you eat’. There is some truth to this popular phrase, as your diet plays a vital role in building muscle and fuelling your recovery. During training, muscles use up glycogen stores that need to be replenished post-workout to help the body repair.
Eating a well-balanced meal of protein and carbohydrates after a workout feeds your muscles amino acids and aids recovery and muscle growth. Carbohydrates and protein are also recommended as a pre-workout food, this meal helps fuel your training. Eating carbohydrates will give your muscles the glucose they need, while protein can increase muscle protein synthesis.
3. Staying Hydrated
Muscles are approximately 75 percent water, so it’s easy to understand why hydration is so important in your recovery. Dehydration can cause protein synthesis to slow down, taking your muscles longer to recover.
Water also plays a vital role in digestion; it helps break down food and allows your body to absorb nutrients it needs. After a long and intense workout, you may find it beneficial to replenish with electrolytes as well to avoid dehydration symptoms such as muscle cramping.
4. Stretch Out
Stretching is necessary and recommended in any exercise regime. Stretching can help to improve your flexibility if it is practiced over time and can also encourage positive joint movement, giving you a better range of motion. This may help with injury prevention by lowering the risk of muscle strain, as well as an overuse injury.
5. Create a Strict Warm-Up and Cool Down Routine
A lot of men and women focus on their training and what they want to achieve during the session but forget to include a warm-up and cool down. Warm-ups can help your body prepare for exercise. You can loosen your body and get into the space mentally. Warm-ups should not be strenuous but simple, light aerobic movements to raise your heart rate and increase blood flow. Ten minutes is all you need and may help your recovery later on.
Cooldowns do the opposite; they help you to slow down your breathing and heart rate gradually. This brings your body into a resting state. There is some suggestion that cooling down after a workout can help with injury prevention and muscle soreness. Again, five to ten minutes of stretching is considered a cool down.
How Southport Central Physiotherapy Can Help
Physiotherapy may help to support your musculoskeletal structure, as well as treat overuse and overtraining injuries. Our physiotherapists aim to identify the true cause of discomfort and are dedicated to getting you back to doing what you love.