After a tough workout, your body needs time to recover and rebuild muscles. However, if you aren’t giving it the proper attention, you may end up with an injury that will take longer to heal or even prevent future workouts altogether. Here are 9 tips for your post-workout routine.
Replenish Your Fluid Levels
Drink plenty of water to replenish your muscles. Most people are already dehydrated after a workout, so don’t forget the most critical step.
Replenish Your Energy Levels
Make sure you eat something soon after working out. This is when your body needs energy and nutrients the most. If it doesn’t get what it needs now, then you will feel sluggish for days following the workout, which means less motivation to go back at it. Eating gives your body fuel that can be used in multiple ways outside of just fueling up your muscles. This includes keeping them healthy as well as burning fat (if you’re looking to do that). So start eating sooner than later. Even if only an apple or banana right away will help with recovery time.
Hot Bath or Shower
Take a hot bath or shower. The heat will help your muscles relax and can also be soothing after a tough workout. Add some Epsom salt to the water to further help with relaxation and muscle soreness.
Get plenty of rest. This is probably the most important part of post-workout care (outside of eating and hydrating, that is). Muscles grow when you’re sleeping, so make sure you’re getting at least eight hours each night. Consider taking naps if possible. Especially if you’ve had a particularly strenuous workout routine.
Start stretching out those tired muscles as soon as you finish your cooldown. You’ll feel better instantly and may even prevent some DOMS, which is a fancy way of saying the dreaded “day-after muscle soreness” that can suck all motivation right out of you.
Consider foam rolling or using a massage ball to release muscles in problem areas, such as your quads after leg day, lower back from time spent hunched over at the computer, and hamstrings if they’re always right. You’ll feel relief almost immediately. There are also many great videos on YouTube with different techniques for specific injuries or problem areas. Do some research.
Wait It Out
Do not exercise again until you have fully recovered from the last workout routine (including eating post-workout). If it’s been less than 24 hours since exercising, then give yourself more rest before hitting up the gym again.
Combat Inflammation And Swelling
Use ice packs, Accurate Gel Packs, or cold therapy to reduce inflammation and swelling that comes after exerting your muscles so much during a workout. It also helps with soreness, which is always good. The colder you can keep the area of pain for at least 20 minutes before it heats up too much, the better off you’ll be in terms of recovery time. If possible, try using an ice bath (fill your tub with water as cold as you can stand) instead of just applying ice directly on top of the skin. This keeps more blood circulating near injured areas to help itself heal faster. This is especially helpful if you have any injuries that are open wounds or bleeding profusely because then only having direct access through tiny openings means you’re losing less cold therapy.
You Can Do It
Last but not least, stay positive! Yes, you may be feeling achy and tired after an intense workout session, but that’s only because you’ve worked your body hard. Remember why you started working out in the first place and give yourself some time to recover so you can come back even stronger next time. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. Progress is progress, after all. And soon enough, all those aches and pains will start subsiding as your body gets used to this new healthy routine. Keep it up!