Sometimes we spend so much time focusing on our workouts that we totally forget the importance of recovery. Taking a day off isn’t a bad thing, in fact, they are a big factor in staying consistent, feeling fresher for your workouts and preventing muscle soreness and injury. Recovery involves more than just not exercising and maybe having some electrolytes. Luckily for us, fitting recovery into your busy day can be very simple!
If you’ve had to take some time away from the gym, easing back into your routine is vital for both soreness and injury prevention. There’s no rewards for going all out for your first work out and then being out of commission for the rest of the week. Don’t forget to listen to your body and start small with shorter sessions and go with the intensity level that feels right for you. Low impact days, like walking, are also great to introduce when you are starting back. Listen to your body, if it’s telling you that you need a rest day, listen! Take a day to do some low impact exercise to recharge your batteries. If you have trouble taking a break, schedule some rest days.
Put your hand up if you’re guilty of not warming up properly every time you work out… Some days it feels like too much effort, but a correct warm up will drastically reduce your muscle soreness. Your warm up doesn’t have to be complicated. Just a few minutes of movement that increase your heart rate like jogging or star jumps followed by some dynamic stretching. Dynamic (moving) stretches have been shown to be the most effective at reducing the risk of injury, supporting better movement, and also making your workouts more effective. Some dynamic stretches we love include arm circles and lunges.
Speaking of stretching, it’s also important to do some dynamic stretching at the end of your workout as well. This helps to slowly lower your heart rate & blood pressure and helps to regulate post workout blood flow. We recommend a brisk walk on the treadmill followed by a gentle stretch.
An essential part of reducing muscle soreness has a lot to do with what we are putting in our bodies before and after we workout. Not hydrating properly after a workout is dangerous for your health and especially your muscles. Exercise makes us sweat which means we lose a lot of water and electrolytes that need to be replaced. Consider adding some electrolytes to your water post workout. Carbs are not the enemy of muscle soreness! An optimal post workout snack includes a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. Some great examples of this are a bowl of oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder and a tablespoon of nut butter or a smoothie with banana, greens, berries, nut butter and protein powder.
Did you know that stress can cause muscle soreness? When you’re stressed, you might be holding a lot of extra muscle tension in your body which leads to soreness, especially when combined with exercise. Try to fit some kind of stress reduction exercise into your day like meditation. A great way to destress is with an epsom salt bath. A perfect activity for a recovery day, epsom salt helps your muscles to relax and epsom salt contains magnesium which replenishes your muscles. Lastly, sleep is the root of wellness. While we sleep our body has a chance to repair the cells that were damaged that day. Poor quality or quantity of sleep can directly impact your body’s ability to recover. Prioritizing sleep isn’t just great for you health, but it's vital for your fitness goals too!