Updated on September 27th, 2018
There’s more to exercise than continuous exertion. Most of us are excited to plan out our cardio routines or decide which weekly classes to take, but we often forget a major part of the equation: how to recover properly, so that we don’t end up undoing our gains.
Get recovery correct, and it becomes easier to maintain a consistent workout routine that won’t meet with the same fate as New Year resolutions—all because you’re treating your body kindly and minimizing risk of injury.
These tips will fill you in on how to recover better and faster:
1. Use Foam Rollers
When you’re suffering from muscle soreness, a massage usually sounds blissful. Here’s a cheaper alternative: go the DIY route and do a self-massage using foam rollers.
No extra prowess needed—you just have to roll it over major muscle groups for at least 10 minutes every day, pressing harder when you hit a sore spot.
The soreness is caused by knotting in the fascia, and foam rolling relaxes these, leading to increased circulation, relaxation, and flexibility.
2. Wear Compression Clothes
Compression clothes are what they sound like: uber-tight clothing in the form of leggings, knee-high socks, sleeves, and more.
Athletes grace photos wearing these, and for good reason—they’re especially great for post-workout recovery.
More than highlighting your physique, the benefits of compression clothing come from how it wraps tightly around your muscles, increasing blood flow and clearing create kinase, an exercise byproduct that causes soreness.
3. Stay Hydrated
This may seem like a no-brainer tip, but most people forget about it! Dehydration can slow down your workout progress.
Your blood becomes less fluid, slowing down the transportation of nutrients, and even the rate at which you build and rebuild muscle is compromised.
If you’re gasping for breath after a workout and you’ve lost buckets of sweat, take it as a cue: drink up! At the very least, don’t ignore being thirsty, and aim for six to eight glasses of water per day.
4. Practice Active Recovery
While it’s essential to space out intense exercises to every other day or more, recovery is more nuanced than we’d think.
Rather than being sedentary, it’s more advisable to engage in active recovery, where you do light exercises such as walking, gentle yoga, and riding your bike around the neighborhood.
Thanks to the increased circulation, this helps eliminate lactic acid much better than just lounging around on the sofa.
5. Take Workout Supplements
Eating a balanced diet is the baseline practice, but taking the right supplements can help you make the most out of your workout.
Rule of thumb: take muscle recovery supplements within 45 minutes after exercising. These can come in the form of tablets or drink formulas.
Among the most popular are whey protein, which supplies amino acids that encourage muscle repair and growth, and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) for reducing post-workout pain.
6. Try an Epsom Salt Bath
Ice baths not your thing? For something simpler and more relaxing, you can head over to a drugstore for Epsom salts and sprinkle these all over your bath.
Epsom salt is made of magnesium, which naturally eases muscle pain. The downside? It’s a laxative when ingested orally, so better to absorb it through your skin in a bath!
Experience its relaxant effects for yourself by adding 2 cups of Epsom salt to warm bathwater and soaking in it for 10-15 minutes.
7. Don’t Skimp on Sleep
Here’s the most underrated workout recovery advice ever: sleep well. Aside from giving you more energy to keep going in your exercise routine, sleep is extremely important because it allows your body to heal and repair tissue damage from exertion.
Most of the action happens during the deepest part of the sleep cycle—REM sleep, when testosterone levels surge and growth hormone is produced. To fully recharge, give yourself at least seven hours of shut-eye.
None of these tips seem to be too difficult, do they? You can incorporate them without much ado into your daily life. In fact, you might end up falling in love with them because of how much better you feel—and the productivity boost they contribute to your exercising!