Physical activity is great for both mental and physical well-being.
Regular exercise not only improves general health and contributes to weight loss but also minimizes the risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
In addition, getting physical can improve sleep, reduce depression and promote better brain function.
While the benefits of exercise are common knowledge, not as many of us realize that post-workout muscle recovery is just as important.
This is because the body needs rest in between workout sessions for the positive changes triggered by exercise to take place.
Why Is Muscle Recovery Important
Caring for your body in between exercise sessions leads to better overall health and more effective future workouts. In particular, strenuous physical activity creates microscopic tears in the muscles that should be repaired before you hit the gym again.
In fact, it is the damage that you cause to your body during exercise that prompts your immune system to repair it, increasing your fitness level — all provided you give your muscles sufficient time to heal.
Rest also re-energizes the body, giving you the power to push yourself during the next workout.
Overtraining, on the other hand, can lead to burnout, overuse, and physical trauma such as stress fractures, and muscle strain. While these injuries are usually mildly uncomfortable, in some cases they may require surgery to repair.
The time it takes for the muscles to recuperate after physical activity depends on a number of factors including your fitness level and the difficulty and duration of the workout.
While healing after light exercise might take 24 hours, muscle recovery after a more strenuous workout can take a few days.
Be sure to speak with your doctor if you are unsure about the right workout type for your fitness level or the best ways to recover following physical activity.
8 Ways to Promote Muscle Recovery
There is little doubt that giving the muscles an opportunity to heal should be an important part of any workout routine.
With this in mind, here are a few tips to boost the speed and quality of your post-workout muscle recovery.
1. Warm-up Before Training
Warm-ups prepare you for physical activity by increasing blood flow to your muscles and raising your temperature. This, in turn, can reduce the risk of workout-related injury and muscle soreness following exercise.
Warm-ups are particularly important before physical activity that contracts and lengthens the muscles simultaneously, such as aerobic exercises and weightlifting.
One of the best ways to get your body ready for workouts is stretching since it both lengthens and activates the muscles. Alternatively, combine gentle stretching with a 10-minute soak in a hot tub to increase blood circulation in the extremities and relax the muscles prior to exercise.
2. Drink Plenty of Water
There is a very good reason you sweat during exercise. Sweat reduces body heat as it evaporates from the skin. It also helps lubricate the joints and transport nutrients throughout the body to promote muscle recovery.
Since we lose fluids when we sweat, it is crucial to stay hydrated before, during, and following workouts.
According to the American Council on Exercise, you should drink between 500 and 600 milliliters of water two hours before physical activity. In addition, you should consume between 200 and 300 milliliters of water every 10 to 20 minutes during physical activity.
3. Wear Compression Garments
A recent study published on the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website reports that compression garments accelerate muscle recovery after intense resistance or power exercises.
This is because wearing compression garments during and after workouts improves blood circulation (narrow blood vessels promote faster blood flow), which helps to remove lactic acid from the muscles. Lactic acid is a byproduct of exercise created when the body is not taking in enough oxygen, which can lead to muscle soreness and inflammation.
4. Cool Down After Training
Taking the time to cool down after physical activity also helps to remove lactic acid from the body, minimizing the risk of muscle stiffness and cramping that could potentially interfere with your future fitness sessions.
A study by California State University reports that cycling after strength exercises reduces the risk of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). In addition, cooling down exercises, such as gentle stretching, can reduce the risk of work-out injuries such as muscle tears.
5. Have a Snack
Muscles need nutrients to heal after a workout. As such, grabbing a snack that contains protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals after exercise can go a long way to accelerating muscle recovery and ensuring that you are in great shape before your next workout.
As a rule of thumb, carb-rich foods should be eaten after endurance activities such as cycling or jogging and protein-rich foods should be consumed following strength training.
When choosing snacks to eat following a workout, it is best to look for foods that are easy to digest to maximize nutrient absorption. Some of the best foods packed with carbohydrates include fruit, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, rice cakes, and quinoa.
If you are after protein-rich foods, try eggs, turkey, chicken, salmon, tuna, or tofu. It is best to have your workout snacks within an hour of exercise.
6. Get in a Hot Tub
A good soak in a spa is not just relaxing but can aid post-workout muscle recovery. After all, there is a good reason why physical therapists recommend it to reduce muscle and joint pain. Hot tub hydrotherapy does its magic by increasing body temperature, blood circulation, and metabolic rate.
To maximize the benefits of a hot tub, it is best to wait until your muscles have cooled down and your heart rate has returned to normal before getting in the water.
For even better results, place cold packs on inflamed muscles for around 10 – 15 minutes or cool down in a swimming pool immediately after exercise and before jumping in a hot tub.
7. Get Your Beauty Sleep
Sleep is absolutely crucial to post-workout muscle recovery. This is because the body produces the majority of the hormones that stimulate muscle repair while we sleep. For best results, make sure that you get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.
Conversely, lack of sleep may not only make you groggy and reduce your fitness level but also decrease your muscle mass and make you prone to injury.
If you have trouble sleeping, try to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day, and definitely do not exercise right before bedtime.
In addition, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, individuals with insomnia tend to sleep better after a hot bath. Why not create an evening spa routine to promote a regular sleep cycle and restful sleep.
8. Indulge in Rest Days
Regular rest days play a significant role in muscle repair. Rest gives your body time to replenish its glycogen levels — a substance that gives your body energy to function — reducing the risk of muscle soreness and fatigue.
Exercise rest days are also essential to prevent burnout, muscle overuse, and injury.
After all, when your muscles are overworked, you are more likely to trip or drop a weight on your foot.
While this may seem counterintuitive, taking rest days can be particularly important for building muscles. This is because workouts create tiny tears in your muscle tissue. And it is during rest days that these tissues have the opportunity to heal and grow.
Rest days don’t have to mean a day in bed. In fact, low-impact workouts are a great way of keeping yourself active without placing stress on your body.
They can also add variety to your fitness routine. Some of the most popular low-impact activities include yoga, biking, swimming, or kayaking.
Get The Most Out of Your Workouts & Speed Up Your Muscle Recovery
There is little doubt that the right fitness regime can make you feel like a million dollars.
Better still, following a number of simple rules can help you make the most out of your workouts. One of these is ensuring that you let your muscles recoup after each exercise session. This is where a hot tub can help.
If you are ready to revolutionize your workout routine, contact the experts at Eden Spas in British Columbia.
We are on standby to help you select the right hot tub for your specific needs and ensure that it fits into your outdoor decor.