We all know that exercise is good for us. But we often overlook the fact that post-workout recovery is just as important as the sweat session itself. Go from sore to supple and refuel your body & mind with these 6 post-workout recovery routines.
1. Slow down
Instead of going straight home and crashing on the couch after your workout, allow your body to gradually wind down through active recovery. Your active recovery session might be going for a walk, taking a leisurely bicycle ride, or practicing restorative yoga. The gentle, slow-paced movements of these low-intensity activities will not only bring you in a state of calm post-workout euphoria, they will also help your muscles repair and rebuild faster.
2. Fuel up
Abs are made in the kitchen, they say. There is some truth to this mantra—your body uses up its glycogen reserves during a workout, leaving your muscles depleted of their energy stores. A post-workout meal can help you restore glycogen levels and build muscle. Not sure what you should be eating to fuel up correctly? After vigorous exercise, your body craves carbs (sweet potatoes, quinoa, wholegrain bread and pasta, oats, bananas), protein (eggs, chicken, tuna, Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese) and healthy fats (nuts, avocado, oily fish such as salmon and mackerel). It’s best to eat within 30 minutes after your workout, because that’s when the glycogen transporters in your muscles are highly active and your body is most receptive to nutrients.
Post-workout hydration is crucial to recovery. After working up a sweat, immediately replenish the liquids you’ve lost by drinking a few glasses of water. Another great post-workout drink is tart cherry juice, since it’s packed with anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. And even though it might seem less thirst-quenching than gulping down a glass of cold water or juice, drinking tea is an amazingly effective way to boost your post-workout recharge. Green tea and herbal teas are especially great to help rehydrate your body, boost your metabolism and re-energise you.
4. Take a bath
No post-workout practice can soothe your muscles quite like a hot soak. Forget the “no pain no gain” approach to exercise and treat yourself to a deeply relaxing bath that allows your body & mind to revel in perfect post-workout bliss.
A massage after an intense workout doesn’t just feel good—it’s actually good for your health. It improves blood flow, eases inflammation, helps your muscles recover and relieves post-exercise aches. Since having a professional massage therapist work on your muscles after workouts is a luxury most amateur athletes don’t have, try practicing self-massage. Be sure to use warm oil, and let self-massage tools such as a foam roller and a lacrosse ball assist you in massaging muscles that are difficult to target with your hands.
The holy grail of all post-workout recovery treatments? Simple—it’s sleep. Sleep might just be the most important part of your training. It’s when your body rebuilds, repairs and regenerates. During sleep, the body produces most of its growth hormones responsible for cell renewal and muscle recovery. To get the most out of your exercise sessions, aim for 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep every single night. And after a hard workout, try upping your shut-eye with a slightly earlier bedtime or a post-workout nap.