If your body is aching, you’re having trouble walking and regular everyday movements are becoming sore, your body is telling you it that it needs time to recover after your heavy workouts and gym sessions. The muscle recovery phase after a workout is necessary and integral as your body rebuilds and re-energizes your muscles. Sometimes our bodies don’t heal quite as fast as we’d like, and it some cases our bodies need an extra bit of help because recovering on its own can be difficult if you are in a heavy workout programme.
Here are our favourite 12 proven ways to speed up muscle recovery and reduce soreness after a tough exercise session.
1. Get 8 Hours of Sleep.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. If you’re one of those people who think you “only need 5 hours,” you’re not giving your body enough time to recover and could be making yourself more prone to injuries in the future. Sleep is one of the best ways to speed up muscle recovery so aim for 7-8 hours per night.
Drinking water after a tough workout can help rid your body of toxins and prevent dehydration. This is important because dehydrated muscles can quickly become painful muscles. You should ideally be drinking a couple of litres of water or more on days when you exercise. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink too, if you’re body is telling you you are thirsty you are already dehydrated.
3. Drink a Protein Shake.
Drinking a protein shake before or after a workout may help reduce the severity of muscle soreness and speed up muscle recovery. A 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein is ideal.
4. Apply Muscle Creams.
Having trouble sitting because of yesterday’s workout? Topical creams like Deep heat are effective for soothing muscle pain and help you recover from a tough exercise session
5. Grab Some Aspirin.
Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can help relieve the discomfort from sore muscles, which can speed up your recovery time. Many hard-core gym-goers will recommend stronger NSAIDS, but don’t use these without getting the okay from your doctor. If your doctor okays it, use them sparingly when bouts of soreness kick in.
6. Ice, Ice Baby.
Apply an icepack to sore muscles for 20 minutes after a tough workout is one of the easiest ways to recover painlessly and rapidly. You don’t have to wait for muscles to hurt before you ice them.
7. Stretch Every Day.
Stretching is one of the best things you can do to aid muscle recovery and help you prevent future injuries. Stretching is particularly useful on your off days. If you’re strapped for time, aim for full body stretches and light exercises like squats, lunges, and planks.
8. Roll Out Sore Muscles.
Foam rollers are cheap and effective tools for breaking up knots and sore spots in your muscles. Foam rolling breaks up scar tissue and knotting in your fascia. This is important because these knots are often the root cause of sore muscles and joints. So spend a few minutes in the morning and evening rolling out sore spots.
9. Get a Massage.
Getting a massage helps break up scar tissue and ease muscle pain. If you don’t want to dish out the money for a regular massage, trade massages with your spouse or significant other. You can thank us later.
10. Eat a High-Protein Meal.
Research shows that eating protein before bed helps with post-exercise muscle recovery. And chugging a protein shake or eating a high-protein breakfast can help reduce food cravings throughout the day, stick with healthy foods like lean meats, eggs, yogurt, and oatmeal though
11. Drink Chocolate Milk.
Here’s a reason to get excited: drinking chocolate milk after a workout is one of the best ways to speed up muscle recovery. Chocolate milk is an effective recovery aid between two exhausting exercise bouts. If you’re on a restricted macro or calorie nutrition plan you can make your own healthier version of chocolate milk by combining milk, raw cocoa powder and a bit of honey or stevia.
12. Drink Cherry Juice.
Drinking cherry juice and cherry supplements post-workout may help reduce the swelling and help your body recover from a tough workout faster. Plus, it can taste like a sweet treat whilst still being very helpful for your fitness goals.