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Step up your post-workout recovery

April 4th, 2023

Success with your fitness goals depends on how you exercise and what you do when you’re not working out. Showing up for your workout is step one, but effective recovery habits are crucial to preventing injuries and optimizing your future performance. Here’s a round-up of healthy lifestyle strategies, plus some extra tips, to help ramp up your recovery and optimize your workouts. 

Get smart with hydration

With or without exercise, your body needs the oxygen and nutrients in water to maintain healthy cell function and regulate your temperature. After your workout, water is especially critical for stabilizing your heart rate and normalizing your blood pressure. If you don’t drink water after your workout, you miss out on the full benefit of your efforts. 

For a post-workout top-up, drinking chocolate milk will give your body a boost of protein, and the carbohydrates in chocolate can help reduce muscle soreness. Tart cherry juice may help reduce post-workout inflammation. 

While you may want to cool off with a cold beer after your run, remember that alcoholic beverages have a dehydrating effect that can cause muscle cramps and delay your recovery.

Get strategic with nutrition

Eating the right foods can help you power up for workouts and optimize your recovery potential. Whey protein powder, black beans, whole milk, Greek yogurt, whole-wheat pasta and chicken are excellent post-workout choices to maximize your recovery and future performance. 

Make protein your best friend. It fuels your body to perform during exercise and makes you feel satisfied longer, reducing the urge to snack on foods that deliver a lower nutritional payload. Get some protein into your body first thing in the morning, before bedtime and before and after your workouts.

Get plenty of rest

A good eight-hour snooze helps you recover from the day’s exertions and can help prevent future injuries. When you sleep, your muscle tissue has a chance to repair itself. Human growth hormone and testosterone – two hormones that support your body’s performance during the day – increase while you’re sleeping. Supplement your nighttime rest with a daytime nap for an extra boost. 

Beyond sleep, your muscles need time to rest between workouts. Experts have differing theories on the optimal balance between training and rest. Your age and fitness level will also factor into the equation. A personal trainer can help you calibrate your routine to find the right balance for your body’s needs and fitness goals. 

Get rid of stress

Mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation can help you regulate your body and mind, helping your body prioritize muscle recovery. Treatments like massage therapy can help you distress, reduce post-workout fatigue and offset muscle soreness. Massage also increases blood flow, which can accelerate your post-workout recovery

Listening to music has benefits both during and after your workout. The right playlist can elevate your mood while you’re pushing through those reps. Then, shifting to a slower tempo after exercise can help regulate your heart rate and reduce the blood lactate that causes muscle soreness. 

Get professional help

If working out, resting and healthy eating are already standard in your daily routine, the right practitioner can help you fill the gaps in your fitness regime. A kinesiologist, personal trainer or sports therapy specialist can guide you through injury prevention or rehabilitation. A dietitian can help you find the right balance of nutrients to support your workout goals. 

Little things can make a big difference

A consistent healthy lifestyle is an essential foundation for workout performance. But here are a few little extras you can incorporate into your routine to boost your post-workout recovery.

  • Cold bath. A classic recovery technique for athletes has long been the icy-cold plunge after a gruelling game. It’s not just about hypothermia-induced numbness. Although bracing, a cold bath can reduce inflammation and soreness.
  • Compression garments. Some research indicates that wearing compression garments during intense exercise can accelerate the recovery of muscle strength.
  • Foam roller. A foam or semi-rigid roller can help you work out myofascial adhesions, those knots you feel after a good workout. It can help your recovery and may also prevent the formation of muscle imbalances. 

Are you making the most of your post-workout recovery? You may be surprised at the positive impact a little professional support can have on your health and fitness outcomes. 

Sports Therapy, Dietitian Services and Personal Training in Surrey, North Vancouver and Burnaby

Legacies Health Centre is your one-stop shop for health and healing. In addition to experts in diet, exercise, personal training and physical therapies, our range of healthcare services includes chiropractic care, massage therapy (by RMT and interns), acupuncture and naturopathy. Visit us at Market Crossing, Surrey Southpoint, Surrey Nordel or North Vancouver. Contact us today to learn more, or book your appointments online.

Jamie works in the Health & Fitness industry over 8 years. He has been working as a Personal Trainer and Fitness Manager for the last 6 years.

Jamie was very active in his teens playing football, lacrosse and hockey, and from experiencing some injuries, he found his passion for Personal Training. Jamie is interested in body movement and mechanics. He enjoys working with clients to achieve a pain-free lifestyle by applying his knowledge and educating clients to feel and look their best. Jamie is certified in TRX suspension and Rip Trainer, Agatsu Kettlebell, Bulgarian Bag, Metabolic Conditioning, Trigger Point, Correcting Muscle Imbalances and more.