5 Tips to Improve Your Post-Workout Recovery Time:
Ask ten different trainers and or athletic therapists for their suggestions for the best ways to recover after a workout and you will most probably get ten different answers. Some feel that it is better to roll out than stretch. Others say that if you run, you do not need to roll as much as if you were body building. My opinion is that it is best to do a combination of all and choose nutrition wisely.
One point that is universal and cannot be argued is that as we age, our bodies lose flexibility, which leads to a loss of joint range of motion. We all know that strength and mobility can be improved at any age and so can flexibility, yet it seems to come last in an exercise program. We all seem to finish training, and neglect to take care of the most important part…recovery.
On a personal level, several years ago, when I was competing in bodybuilding, I was guilty of never stretching enough after a workout. I am paying for it now! My muscles are tighter than they should be and I am lacking mobility. It is true that in those days, we were not exposed to as many options as today for post workout recovery, but there should really be no excuse.
Flex Those Muscles
There are many different styles of stretching that could and or should be part of your recovery program. They include static, dynamic, PNF, and AIS (active isolated stretching). It is important to never stretch to the point of pain or discomfort. Never bounce or jerk while stretching, and make sure that you breathe. The deeper you breathe, the easier the body will flow into the stretch.
My preferred style of stretching is the AIS, developed and created by Aaron Mattes. It encourages a series of repetitive stretches, held for a short period of time (2-6 seconds). To learn more, visit www.stretchingusa.com.
There are several styles of foam rollers on the market designed for a softer, gentler release of fascia, and others that are harder and geared to body builders and or cross fit enthusiasts. If you are suffering with a lot of inflammation, it is recommended that you go easy and start with a softer roller regardless of the intensity of your workout.
Pressing or stretching too hard can often lead to further tear or inflammation if not careful. Rolling is very beneficial as it improves circulation, increases blood flow, and feels great. It is similar to how you feel when getting a massage.
Nourish Your Body
Now for my favorite part…post workout nutrient needs. I always say that the better your nutrients needs are met throughout your day, the easier it will be to recover and be prepared for your next workout. As for the immediate, timing is crucial. There is a 45-90 minute window after a workout, where you should consume a higher protein meal. As someone who recommends a plant-based diet, a plant-based protein can be quinoa or beans in a salad with hemp seeds for added protein. If you are a meat eater, a chicken breast with some wild rice and greens is an option. I personally choose to have a large smoothie after my workouts which include a plant based protein powder with hemp and chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, maca, a few fruits and coconut water.
As for supplementation, BCAAs can help support protein synthesis and muscle tissue repair. According to research, five grams can be the ideal dose to replenish energy and support efficient recovery.
Although some athletes swear by ice bath recovery, there is not really enough research out there to support this theory. The theory behind this method is that by repeatedly constricting and dilating blood vessels helps remove (or flush out) waste products in the tissues. On a simple note, I like to suggest that my clients take a post workout shower, alternating 2 minutes of hot water with 30 seconds of cold water for about 6-8 minutes.
Try Compression Clothing
Compression clothing has been gaining popularity and is designed to improve athletic importance and reduce muscle soreness. I have heard and read different opinions that all seem to be inconclusive but I have no personal experience with them. I would say it is worth a try, although they can be expensive.
The funny thing about “being or feeling sore” after a workout is that our clients love the feeling of knowing they did something. The challenge for all of us is to take the time to give back to our bodies with proper and meaningful recovery methods and nutrients.