A Long Stretch
After you’ve finished a hard workout, it’s easy to pack your gym bag and head straight home for some relaxing on the couch. But no matter how exhausted you are, don’t skip the post-workout stretch. Stretching can reduce muscle soreness and improve muscle activation after a workout.
The Post-Workout Window
After your workout, there’s a window of time when you must replenish your muscle cells. There are many different ideas of how long this window lasts, but aim to find a protein source to eat no more than 45 minutes after your workout. A protein shake, a banana, or lean meat are great options for replenishing your body.
Hydrating before, during, and after your workout session is essential. Doing so will replenish lost fluids, prevent cramping, and reduce fatigue. It’s best to stick to water for hydration, as many sports drinks are loaded with sugar.
Use Active Recovery
You should also include an active recovery exercise at the end of a workout. Transitioning from a high-intensity activity right into stretching or an abrupt end can lead to tight, sore muscles. Plan a 5- to 10-minute low-intensity exercise such as biking to clear metabolic waste from your bloodstream.
Take an Ice Bath
It won’t be fun, but your muscles will thank you after you take a refreshing ice bath. Ice baths reduce inflammation and soreness. When your body soaks in the cold water, your blood vessels will constrict. After you exit the bath, they’ll open back up. This process will flush out built-up metabolic waste.
At home, ice baths are simple to use; just fill your bathtub with cold water and a bag of ice, and plan to soak for no longer than 15 minutes.
Your recovery plan is just as important as the workout for feeling good and seeing improvements. Use some of these top natural workout recovery tips after your next lift or cardio session for some post-workout relief.