There’s nothing like that moment where you round out the final mile of your morning run, or you complete your final set on the bench press. But just because your workout is complete for the day doesn’t mean that you’re finished conditioning your body. In fact, one of the most crucial parts of any workout regimen is the part that occurs outside of the gym: recovery. From reducing soreness and fatigue to increasing gains, proper recovery techniques can make all the difference in achieving long-term fitness goals. Read on for five ways to speed up your post-workout recovery that are sure to keep you at the top of your game workout after workout.
Hit the spa
One of the best ways to speed up muscle recovery after exercising is a post-workout massage. For starters, massages help reduce inflammation, which can not only slow recovery but limit gains after a tough workout. Beyond that, massages are also effective in promoting the production of mitochondria in the body, which help cells convert glucose into the energy needed to function and repair themselves effectively. So basically, what all of this means is that going to the spa for a massage after getting out of the gym isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. As in, you pretty much have to do it.
Get some zzz’s
While “sleeping it off” shouldn’t be a go-to solution in life (disappointing, we know), post-workout recovery is a rare instance where sleep is a totally legitimate problem-solver. Because sleep naturally serves to recharge the body, it also plays a key role in helping the body recover after an intense workout. Specifically, the increased release of anabolic hormones during sleep helps to build and repair muscle. Ideally, you should aim for – you guessed it – about eight hours of sleep a night. You’ve heard it before, but now you have one more reason to listen.
Take your vitamins
It makes sense that helping your body recover more quickly after a workout would include replenishing it with the nutrients that it used up while exercising and that it needs to prevent damage. Lucky for you, the right vitamins and supplements can do all of the real work here. Following up a workout with supplements that include components like branch chain amino acids, or BCAA’s, is important for reducing not only post-workout soreness, but muscle breakdown, as well.
Try contrast water therapy
Despite the intimidating name, contrast water therapy is really just fancy terminology for playing around with water temperature during your post-workout shower. The idea is to alternate between hot and cold water as you wash off. For example, you can alternate between two minutes of hot water and 30 seconds of cold water, using about a minute of warm water to transition between the two. The shifts in temperature cause blood vessels to contract and dilate, which allows the muscles to pump metabolic waste back out into the bloodstream for accelerated recovery.
Put a pin – err, needle – in it
If you’re all about thinking out of the box to keep your workouts interesting, why not apply the same philosophy to your recovery? While it may not be the most traditional form of recovery – it’s understandable that voluntarily getting pricked and prodded by needles may not catch on quite as quickly as, say, a foam roller – acupuncture can be effective in healing your body after a tough workout. The method helps to relax muscles, increase blood flow, and promote healing in deep muscle tissue.
About Tamara Rahoumi
Tamara is a writer on The Path Editorial Team. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in magazine journalism at NYU. Her passion for wellness always has her researching the latest fitness trends, experimenting with recipes from superfood cookbooks, and working towards an overall healthier and happier lifestyle. In addition to reading her articles on The Path, you can follow her adventures on her lifestyle blog, The Curly Nomad.