4 Ways to Maximize Muscle Recovery
You’ve just put in a grueling workout at the gym and you’re exhausted. Your muscles are sore and you’re wondering if you should have kept going a little longer to make up for the time you’ll be in recovery mode. From amateur fitness enthusiasts to Olympic athletes, high-intensity interval training is slowly becoming a staple around the world. What is high-intensity interval training?—exercise consisting of short, intense periods interspersed with brief intervals for recovery.
The speed at which people recover from periods of high-intensity exercise varies partly due to their fitness level. Someone who exercises regularly will need less recovery time than someone who works out once a week.
Factors that Effect Exercise Recovery
1 – Age
Things slow down as you start to get older, so it may take you longer to recover from an injury than it did when you were young. That’s why young people can get away with training more often than their older counterparts.
2 – Genetics
Based on genetics, some people will find exercising easier and recover faster than others. This is because we all have different muscle tissue quantities and proportions of muscle tissue fibers.
3 – Nutrition
The more you push your body during a workout, the more nutrients it requires to heal and become balanced. Eating junk food will make it harder to recover from exercise.
4 – Intensity
You could exercise daily if your movements were easy and resistance was light. Unfortunately, the harder you exercise the longer it takes to recover. If you have a heavy set of Deadlifts, your recovery period could take 2–3 days for a complete recovery period.
5 – Stress Levels
Everyone is affected differently by emotional, physical, and mental stress. Never underestimate stress—it affects the whole body continuously and can prolong your recovery!
6 – Recovery Methods
Certain recovery methods are thought to speed up the healing process. Soft tissue work such as massages and foam rolling will increase blood flow and quality of muscle tissue; while cold showers or ice baths are believed to help flush the body of toxins.
If you’ve been training hard, you may be experiencing delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)—painful muscle soreness days after a tough workout. There are some ways you can recover faster from training and keep working towards your health goals.
Rest or Active Recovery
Getting plenty of sleep and resting your body is the most effective treatment method for sore muscles. While you’re sleeping, your pituitary gland releases growth hormone, which helps your body grow and repair itself.
Another option is active recovery—this is characterized as light exercise during the recovery phase which can stimulate blood flow to the muscle tissue to assist with the removal of metabolic waste, including lactate. Active recovery includes activities that are short bursts of low-intensity movement such as swimming or a light jog.
Make sure you’re drinking enough water before, during, and after a workout to help flush toxins from your body and prevent dehydration, which can make muscle soreness even more noticeable. Also consider balancing your electrolytes while hydrating—electrolytes include minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium. Having a glass of milk or a smoothie after your workout can help replenish your electrolytes and aid in recovery.
Pre & Post-Workout Nutrition
What you eat before a workout is just as important as what you eat after a workout. Consuming a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein before or after your exercise may help reduce the severity of muscle soreness.
Eating protein before your workout increases muscle protein synthesis. Consuming protein after your workout helps give your body the material it needs to repair muscle damage caused by workouts.
As a general rule, eating a healthy diet can ensure you don’t develop nutrient deficiencies that impair your muscles’ ability to recover.
Wear Compression Garments
A 2017 study found that wearing compression clothing can help reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness for up to four days after a workout. It can also help with your perception of fatigue so you feel less tired and sore.
Other treatments of sore muscles may include cold showers, cold Epsom salt baths, massages, and gentle stretching.
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