What Actually Works for Muscle Recovery?

There is no denying that working out is one of the essentials for a healthy lifestyle and longevity. However, there are some unwanted and unavoidable consequences of exercising too that are not discussed as often as the benefits of staying physically active. The most common, and the most painful, of these consequences are muscle soreness and stiffness. While such stiffness goes away on its own in most cases with continued activity, in some cases the pain can become chronic and may even become counterproductive to the benefits of working out itself. Therefore it is important to deal with it as soon as possible and in the most effective way as well. Here is a summary of what actually works for muscle recovery.

Get a Massage:

This is perhaps one of the most renowned ways of reducing muscle swelling and related pain resulting from exercise. Pressure therapy on sore muscles not only improves blood circulation, aiding in removing knots and soreness but also improves the general strength of muscles as well. Additionally, massages are also relaxing and known to reduce stress and anxiety, which makes it easier to wake up and get up the next day to work out again.

Increase Protein in Diet:

Since muscles are made of proteins themselves, adding extra nutrition directly through diet is also known to help in muscle recovery after a heavy workout. Regular intake of higher protein also enables your body to process healthier nutrients and thereby provide a consistently better ability to put your muscles to work. It also helps in rebuilding the muscle mass that gets damaged during the workout.

Rest:

Anyone familiar with the right techniques of working out – be it to maintain a healthy lifestyle or to even build muscles – knows that muscles need rest to recover and rejuvenate. On top of all the protein shakes and massages, it is imperative that you allow your muscles to adapt to the higher level of activity and that requires stress free rest and deep sleep.

Get a Weighted Blanket:

When we talk about rest and sleep, we cannot discount the mental and physical pressures resulting from modern day work and life requirements. While it may not be as easy to remove all the stress factors from your life in one day, it is incredibly easy to make sure that your sleep time is free of stress and filled with physical and emotional nourishment. These weighted blankets are proven to provide a hugging feeling and exert pressure on the entire body at once, which not only helps in improving sleep but also provides an all-night long soft massage sensation to your muscles.

Take a Cold Bath:

This might not be as comfortable as eating higher protein or as pleasurable as sleeping with a weighted blanket, but an ice bath is a popular option to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation after workout. However, cold baths should not be used as a replacement for rest and better sleep, because the primary way they work is to provide a softer but similar effect to low-intensity exercise. This heals the muscles by keeping them active, while weighted blankets heal them by providing them rest and nurturing.

Drink Chocolate Milk:

This is a delicious remedy to muscle degeneration and it works in multiple ways. For starters, this combination provides you with necessary carbohydrates and proteins for energy, while they also fasten the recovery time for muscle soreness. Secondly, chocolate is known to improve mood which ultimately improves blood circulation and keeps you motivated to continue your workout routine which also helps in muscle recovery. And finally, this warm drink drunk after exercise will also improve blood circulation and immediately replenish the nutrients lost during workout.

Don’t Forget to Stay Hydrated:

In addition to providing your muscles the time and rest they require, and taking the right nutrients that muscles need to regenerate and develop, you also need enough water to wash away the metabolic waste produced in the muscles during working out. Water is also important for general health, especially in warmer climates and especially after you sweat during exercise.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol:

While a drink or two during the weekends with friends, an occasional cup of coffee in the morning might not undo your efforts during high intensity workouts, a heavy dose of either of these is likely to do a lot of damage to your muscles as well as other parts of the body. Alcohol not only hinders the body’s ability to rehydrate but it can also interfere in the synthesis of protein which is essential for muscle recovery. So it is advisable to stay away from these two beverages while waiting for muscle regeneration.

Anti-inflammatories Can be the Last Option:

As was said in the beginning of this article, given enough time and rest and with proper nutrition, muscles recovery can happen on its own in due time. However, if you are in a lot of pain and you need to reduce muscle soreness and pain quickly, your healthcare provider may recommend an anti-inflammatory. However, make sure that you have a doctor’s prescription for this and you have been cleared of any reasons to avoid such medicines. Also remember that these drugs might be helpful in reducing pain in the short term, but they will become a barrier to your ability to build muscle if taken in high doses.