Nothing feels better than dominating your workout–except getting up the next day and mastering those moves all over again. But what happens when your body and muscles say no? How do you get back in the saddle then?
First off, don’t panic. Instead, turn your focus to recovery immediately after your workout. That way both your workouts and overcoming post workout aches and pains can get easier overtime.
There are things you can eat, drink, or do to assist your body as it tries to replenish what was lost during your latest workout. Try a few of our suggestions below for quicker muscle recovery and less muscle soreness. Then you’ll be ready to get back to working out in no time!
What to eat after workout
Anti-inflammatory foods help the body recover faster. Take pineapples for example, it contains bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory that aids in recovery after a tough workout. Pineapples also have tons of vitamin C–even more than an orange. This is great news since vitamin C is an antioxidant that promotes tissue growth and healing too.
Don’t leave tart cherries out of your recovery arsenal. They are full of the antioxidant anthocyanin, which gives cherries their healing power. Anthocyanins reduce inflammation, which in turn will help limit muscle soreness after a workout.
Ginger is also long known for its healing properties. No, it’s not just for pregnant woman battling morning sickness. It can reduce pain and inflammation too. Studies have shown that as little as two grams of ginger a day can help reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness.
What to do after a workout
Stretch. Even if you’re not the most flexible. Stretch. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow. Stretching reduces muscle fatigue and helps rid the body of lactic acid that has built up during your workout. Here are a couple of simple post-workout stretches to conclude your cool down.
- Butterfly stretch
An oldie but a goodie, this stretch works your lower back and hips. It’s key for lower body workouts. First, sit on the ground with your legs folded in front of you in the shape of a diamond. Press the soles of your feet together. Then grab your feet with your hands and place your elbows on the inside of your knees. Lean forward from your hips. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat as necessary to continue opening up the hips and thighs. This stretch helps improve flexibility too.
- Wall Calf Stretch
Tight calf muscles can put you at risk for injury or waking up in the middle of the night with the dreaded and painful charley horse. So loosen up those calf muscles after your workout. Stand at arm’s length away from a wall in a staggered stance. Bend your front leg at the knee and keep your back leg straight. Lean in for about ten seconds or until you feel your back leg is being stretched well. Rotate your legs and do 10-15 second repetitions.
- Hamstring Stretch
Ever wondered how flexible you are? This stretch will let you know. Sit on the ground and bend one leg in while extending the other leg out. Rotate the straight leg inwards. Keeping your back as straight as possible, lean forward from the hip. Hold for thirty seconds. Switch legs. If you can keep your back fairly straight, you won’t have to lean too far to feel a great stretch. As much as you may want to touch your toes when doing this stretch, you may not be there yet. And be sure not to over extend yourself with this stretch, since it can also lead to a hamstring injury. Building flexibility takes time. The more you stretch, the more limber and flexible you’ll be.
What to Drink after a Workout
Chocolate milk really does do a body good. It’s ratio of carbohydrates to protein is perfect for helping to rebuild muscle tissue and can make for shorter recovery times after a workout. So within twenty to thirty minutes after your workout, have a glass of low-fat chocolate milk. It will give you an extra boost of energy to get you through the rest of your day, or your next workout, whichever one comes first.