It’s great you’ve swapped the couch surfing for road running, or a trendy HIIT session at your local gym, but now your muscles are fatigued and you can barely walk down the stairs without wincing. Do not despair! By taking preventative measures this post work-out lull doesn’t have to be so bad.
Those muscle aches and pains you feel are actually muscular injuries caused through exercise. When muscles are injured this way, satellite cells attempt to repair the damage that has been caused which, in turn, increases the muscle fibres, making muscles larger.
So when it comes to recovery from exercise think about the following strategies:
- Rest & relaxation – Long baths are great, the heat helps relax the muscles and this can be enhanced with the use of Epsom salts (see below).
- Stretching – Stretching after (and not before) your workout is best. Research shows stretching pre-workout has no benefit and might do more harm than good.
- Not overdoing it – Overdoing it in the gym and using heavier weights than you are ready for can cause injury and take you out of the gym for longer than you wish. Slow and steady wins the race. Days off in-between workouts helps your muscle to recover before your next session.
- Consistency – As you begin to exercise regularly your muscles will grow more tolerant to the exercise so being consistent increases exercise gains and resilience in the long run.
- Sleep – Sleep heals so a restful night’s sleep is essential. Some simple strategies for better sleep include going to bed before midnight, no screens for a couple of hours before bed and getting outside in fresh air daily.
- Hydration – Pure, fresh or filtered water is required for all metabolic processes in the body, so make sure you are having enough. Depending on your size, the time of year and the amount of exercise you do, 1-3 litres a day might cover your requirements. Add a pinch of good quality unprocessed salt to every additional litre of water you drink to replace trace minerals lost through sweating. Be mindful that drinking too much water is not advisable, so find what works for you. If in doubt, ask a naturopath.
- Nutrition – Top go-to nutrients to aid in your exercise regime are protein (amino acids), magnesium, B vitamins and essential minerals.