When it comes to creating a stronger, healthier body, a lot of us will focus primarily on what exercises can help us burn fat, build muscle, and improve our progress towards our goals. However, focusing too much on exercise and not enough on what comes next can lead to a lot of discomfort, pain, and delays between you and your goals.
Recovery is every bit as important as exercise. Here, we’re going to look at what you can do to aid that recovery and make sure your routine stays as effective as possible.
Reduce your chances of injury while working out
First of all, if you don’t want to spend too long in recovery, then don’t push yourself too hard when you’re working out. Stay safe by making sure you take the time to warm up and cool down, as well as to stretch both before and after each exercise. Your muscles need time to get the kind of elasticity that allows them to do what you want when you’re working them out. You have to listen to your body as well, and be able to tell the natural aches of exercise from the tightness and pain that can precede a workout injury.
Hydration is crucial
Simply put, you need plenty of water in that body at all times. However, while you’re working out, you’re constantly losing a lot of hydration through your sweat. Water fuels all kinds of processes in the body, including the process of rebuilding muscle after exercise and metabolic function that burns energy. As such, if you don’t make sure you’re replacing the fluids you lose throughout exercise then you are both going to experience longer recovery periods from exercise as well as worse gains from those exercises. There are, thankfully, plenty of apps that can help you measure how much water you should be getting throughout the day, so it shouldn’t be difficult to make sure you’re hydrating.
Take the fight to inflammation
If you have pain in your muscles following an exercise, then that’s likely to be delay onset muscle soreness, a natural part of the process of breaking them down and building them up to be stronger. However, if you have pain in your back and joints, that could be an inflammatory response by your body. You should aim to ease this pain to make it easier to get back to exercise. Lighter impact exercises can help you avoid this pain, but using CBD oil and eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties such as tomatoes, spinach, kale, and olive oil can all help. As you build muscle around the affected joints and reduce weight, you should lessen the load on them, reducing your inflammation naturally over time, too.
Give your body the fuel that it needs to recover
A lot of people already associate protein with muscle building, and getting enough protein in your diet to help your body recover is crucial. However, you should also pay attention to the energy stores that you tend to deplete while you work out, as well. Not only do healthy carbs play an important role in helping repair muscle, right there alongside protein, but they also help you recover your energy levels naturally so that you’re not continuously feeling lethargic after you’re done with your exercise. To make sure that you’re on the road to recovery, you want to ensure that you eat around an hour after the end of your workout, getting both protein and healthy carbs.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
What role, exactly, sleep plays for our body isn’t entirely clear. Scientists can find what the “purpose” of sleep is supposed to be. However, we do know plenty about the effects of not getting enough of it. Sleep deprivation can have a greatly negative impact on both how effectively you exercise and how well you recover. If you don’t sleep, you don’t have energy, so it only makes sense. Furthermore, sleep has been shown to regulate hormone production throughout the body, including the production of cortisol. Not enough sleep, and we can have too much of this stress hormone cause inflammation and other physical side effects. Sleep even affects our metabolism and mood.
Ease your body after the fact
Stretching, cooling down, and dealing with inflammation will all help to quell with the pain of recovery. Another way to both help with pain and swelling, and to reduce the time between workouts and risk of exercise, is to do what is called soft tissue work. Effectively, when you’re done with a workout, there’s a risk of your muscles getting caught in a painful and tight knot. Using tools like a foam roller can help you work out that soft tissue so it all goes back to the natural resting state that it’s supposed to be in. Look up some foam roller exercises you can do to help your body get back to resting. Be aware that you may be unable to handle all post-exercise issues by yourself. If you’ve got a more serious injury, such as a rotator cuff problem, then you might have to supplement your anti-inflammation measures with physical therapy.
It takes time
Simply put, one of the worst things you can do is push yourself to work out, even more, when your body should be busy recovering. There is something to be said for not giving your body too long to recover, which we will cover a little later. However, you should not be going from one week of strenuous exercise into another week of strenuous exercise. Instead, you should be planning out both your exercise and recovery periods as best as possible. For instance, you should use down weeks that incorporate recovery workouts, so that you’re not pushing your body too hard but you’re not allowing it to rest too much, either. Otherwise, you can put your body at risk of overtraining, which can lead to painful injuries.
Avoid too much bed rest
After a particularly strenuous exercise, you might feel a need to do very little but lie down. There’s nothing wrong with taking an hour or two to relax and recuperate after a heavy exercise. However, even if you are dealing with a fitness injury, you should never rely too much on bedrest unless you are genuinely bed-ridden. Spending too much time lying down can actually make it harder for the body to recover, and it can affect your posture so that you become even more prone to things like musculoskeletal pain in the back and the joints. As mentioned, you should take the time to implement recovery workouts, making sure that your body is still moving, even if it’s not doing anything too strenuous.
There are a lot of benefits to mental practices and visualisation techniques such as mindfulness meditation. If you’re on the road to recovery, you might feel antsy to get back into the gym even if you know that it’s not the best idea for you right now. As such, you can use a meditation app to help you slow down your thoughts and focus on how your mind is reacting to what your body is feeling. It can help you deal with overactive thinking and help you practice more positive self-dialogue in your head. A sound body needs a sound mind to help sharpen it, and meditation can be one of the best tools for doing just that.
The tips above can help you ensure that even as you’re working your body, you’re taking the best possible care of it. The most efficient way towards your goals is to make sure that you’re exercising in a way that is safe and healthy, and prioritizing good recovery is key to that.