The Cool Down: 7 Tips for Post-Exercise Recovery
By Matthew More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Extreme Existence Blog Series
After a long workout, I just want to go home, fling myself onto the couch and take a nap. I am sweaty and hot, and a cold shower would be really nice, but my body rebels, only wanting to sit, to put its feet up and close its eyes. Unfortunately, though my body tells me this is what it wants, it is not what it needs.
Exercise is important, but recovery after exercise is equally important. Studies have shown that after a workout, our immunities are lower, making us more susceptible to disease. In addition, if we do not recover correctly, we may actually damage muscle tissues by working out again. The goal is to recover quickly and with as little pain as possible so that we are ready to begin that next workout. Here are some things you can do to aid the recovery process.
1. Cool down
You should cool down for about 10 minutes after a workout. Dedicate part of this to stretching. This helps to flush build up lactic acid from your system. The low intensity movement is also good for increasing circulation and muscle recovery.
2. Drink fluids
Water is always, always, always important. If you have just been working out, you have lost a lot of fluids, so drink water to hydrate your body. It helps just about every bodily system and function. You can drink sports beverages like Gatorade, too, but for most people water is more than enough.
For better muscle recovery and decreased soreness, try taking vitamin E after a workout. Some people have also said vitamin C is helpful for avoiding muscle soreness, but this has not been proven. Vitamins help to replenish any lost nutrients and help to prevent aching in your muscles.
Food helps our bodies to recover muscle tissues and prepare us for our upcoming exercise endeavors. It is important to eat foods that are high in protein, like meat or eggs, as well as foods that have carbohydrates. This replenishes our energy stores and aids quick recovery.
5. Ice bath
This has not been completely proven, but many professional athletes use this method to aid in quick recovery. The idea behind this is that if you alternate between hot and cold water, you will cause your arteries to dilate and constrict, massaging the muscles and stimulating proper blood flow. You could also do this by alternating the hot and cold water in the shower. This helps your body to cool down and prevents soreness in muscles.
Massages do two things. First, they help you to relax, which is beneficial to recovery. Second, they reduce post-workout muscle stiffness and improve your circulation. And as a bonus, they just feel nice. This could be a professional massage or just a back rub from a friend. There is also a wide variety of equipment out there you can use to help relax your muscles.
7. Rest and sleep
Studies have recently shown a link between sleep and speed recovery. During sleep, our bodies produce hormones that aid in repairing and maintaining tissues. This will speed up recovery and keep you performing in top shape.
So when you finish your workout, don’t just stop. Take the appropriate actions to get your body working and healthy again. This will keep you feeling better, and make those exercises worth your while.