Rest and recovery after exercise is essential to muscle and tissue repair, strength building and subsequent performance. This is even more important after an intensive workout.
There are many types of recovery techniques that can impact perceived fatigue, muscle damage, and inflammatory markers after physical exercise.
These are the best methods. However, there is no best method for everyone. Choose a recovery modality that is best suited to your individual training schedules, preferences, facilities and equipment.
Get Adequate Sleep. Optimal sleep is essential for anyone who exercises regularly. Sleeping is the body’s most natural way to take care of the recovery and provides time for the muscles to grow and repair. Keep track of your sleep duration and quality and then assess and make a plan if necessary. So nap, sleep in or whatever it takes to get enough sleep.
Rest. Time is one of the best ways to recover. Your body has an amazing capacity to take care of itself if you allow it some time.
Avoid Overdoing Your Workout. One simple way to recover faster is by ensuring your workout is within your capacity and build up gradually to harder workouts. Trying to do too much immediately without a gradual progression for your body and muscle groups will limit your fitness gains from your workouts and undermine your recovery efforts.
Massage seems to be an effective method for reducing delayed onset muscle soreness and perceived fatigue. You can also try foam rolling self-myofascial release like shown here. Or use a massage stick.
Cooling Down means slowing down (not stopping completely) after exercise. Continuing to move around at a low intensity (gentle stretching or walking for instance) for 5 to 10 minutes after finishing your workout.
Replace Fluids You lose a lot of fluid during a long workout and ideally, you should be replacing it during the workout, and filling up after exercise is an easy way to assist your recovery. Water supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body and having plenty of water will improve every bodily function.
Eat Properly. A long workout will deplete your energy stores, you need to refuel to replace this energy, repair tissues, get stronger and be ready for the next challenge. Ideally, you should get serious about pre-workout nutrition, eat during exercise and eat within 60 minutes of the end of your workout and make sure you include some high-quality protein (15-25 grams) and complex carbohydrate.
Fueling for Performance for Hiking and Mountaineering
Fueling Up to Maximize Your Workout Muscle Growth and Recovery
This nutrition advice was written for my professional ballet clients but is applicable to all athletes. If you would like additional personalized advice, contact me.
Stretch. After a tough workout, consider gentle stretching. This is a simple and fast way to help your muscles recover. Here is a 6 minute yoga stretch video performed by one of my interns.
Perform Active Recovery. Easy, gentle movement including low intensity walking improves circulation which helps promote nutrient and waste product transport throughout the body. In theory, this helps the muscles repair and refuel faster.
Take an Ice Bath, Ice massage or contrast water therapy (alternating hot and cold showers) may help recovery. If you are interested in exploring this further, look at some credible meta-analysis study articles.
Compression Garments may be beneficial to recovery process. The type, when to put them on, for how long depends on what type of exercise you do. If you are interested in exploring this further, look at some credible meta-analysis study articles.
Listen to Your Body. The main thing you can do to recover quickly is to listen to your body. If you are feeling tired, irritable, have a higher than normal resting heart rate, are sore or notice decreased performance you may need more recovery time or a break from workout altogether.