The human body is complex, especially within our modern world. With so many contributing factors, it can be tough to maintain optimal health. If you’ve become increasingly active, you need to maximize your efforts. Whether you’re a runner or weight lifter, you have to tend to your muscles.
The Importance of Muscle Recovery
When you think of working out, the last thing you properly picture is rest. In reality, recovery and rest are one of the most overlooked (yet important) aspects of training. As you workout, your muscles begin to breakdown, if you do not provide them with what they need, you will not maximize your training efforts.
Of course, there are many factors which contribute to recovery rates, including your age, your level of experience, nutrition, the type of exercise, and more. While focusing on the big picture, there are two key categories regarding recovery — between sets and between sessions.
Boost Your Ability to Recover In 3 Simple Steps
After you achieve a great workout, you feel proud and accomplished. As you walk out of the gym or get home from a long run, your muscles may feel tender and sore. That’s your body telling you that it’s time to recover. As you enter the recovery phase, your muscle will re-energize and re-build. To enhance this process, you’ll need to:
Step #1: Hydrate and Eat Right
If you workout, then go eat a hamburger, you’ve kind of defeated the purpose of your training session. Although a burger will provide you with protein, there are much healthier options available that will be far more beneficial. From protein bars to shakes, there are plenty of options available.
Research has shown that after consuming a protein shake pre- or post-workout, you will reduce muscle soreness and speed up recovery. Although you most certainly need protein, you also need to re-fuel with carbs. Generally, a ratio of 2:1 (carbs to protein) is ideal.
Of course, water is also essential, as working out can quickly result in dehydration. You need to drink water throughout your workout to maximize endurance and performance levels, but also after, to ensure your muscles and body are properly hydrated. The more active you are, the more water your body needs.
Step #2: Say Hello to Massage and Cold Therapy
Although a massage is meant to relax your body and mind, its benefits go far beyond a calming experience. Used throughout ancient and modern medicine, massage has the ability to reduce pain and inflammation, all while promoting blood flow. This means that more oxygen-rich blood will reach your muscles, improving function and recovery.
The same is true for ice therapy — especially while sitting in an ice bath. If you’re training hard, ice will help reduce both lactic acid buildup and swelling. The same is true for an ice pack placed on a sore area, such as your ankle or knee. The cold temperature helps tighten your blood vessels, supporting the elimination of lactic acid.
Step #3: Get Some Sleep
Quality sleep is so important for your health, helping you build and repair lean muscle mass. Believe it or not, sleep is one of the most important aspects of recovery, simply because HGH (human growth hormone) increases during sleep. Enough sleep will also help you maintain more stable energy levels the following day.
Before you go to bed, make sure you each a light, protein-rich snack. This will help offset muscle breakdown — as your body uses amino acids to function. To ensure a good night’s rest, sleep in a quiet and cool environment; reduce brain stimulation and your exposure to light an hour before bed and do not oversleep.
If you’re working hard to maximize results, take these simple additional steps to ensure optimal growth and recovery. Listen to your body — if you’re in pain, you need to rest. As you increase your level of fitness, your muscles will adapt accordingly. Continue to push towards your goals, all while benefiting from enhanced recovery.