Exercise plays a key role in improving mental health and has become increasingly important for many people to relieve stress and anxiety during the ongoing pandemic. In fact, despite the closure of gyms as part of the COVID-19 lockdown measures, new research by WUA has found that one in three people are exercising more now than before lockdown began.
Whilst there are a number benefits of regular exercise, one thing that you may have been struggling with if you've been keeping active during lockdown is the post-workout muscle soreness, so here are our six top tips for recovering after a tough home workout or run.
1. DON’T SKIP THE WARM-UP
Although it can often be tempting to go straight into your workout, especially if you want to get it over and done with as quickly as possible, a warm-up is crucial to get the blood and oxygen flowing to your muscles and to prevent excessive soreness later on. Try to add light movement-based stretching to your warm-up routine such as lunges or squats, or jogging on the spot to help prime your body to work at a higher intensity.
2. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Dehydration is a major cause of muscle soreness and cramps so it’s crucial to replenish the fluids you lose when you sweat during a workout. Make sure you drink a good amount of water to hydrate yourself before your workout and every 15 minutes during your workout if you can, or within the first 10 minutes after you finish. Whilst it’s especially important to hydrate when running in the heat, you still lose water when it’s cold so make sure you take on plenty of fluids whatever the weather.
3. COOL DOWN
Once you’ve rehydrated after your workout, it's now time for a quick cool down to relieve any knots and tightness. Stretching for 10-15 minutes, focusing on the major muscles you’ve been working out will play a key role in reducing soreness over the coming days. Alongside static stretching, it’s also a good idea to add foam rolling to your cool down routine if you can. Using a foam roller after your workout helps to break up scar tissue, stimulate blood flow and loosen your muscles to prevent pain and soreness so you’re able to stay active.
After your cool down, it’s important to refuel your muscles with a balanced meal with a good mix of carbs, proteins and fats. The food you eat post-workout provides your body with the building blocks needed to repair your muscles and speed up your recovery. Try to keep your diet topped up with food rich in antioxidants such as onions, sweet potatoes, carrots and spinach as well as lean protein such as white fish and beans, peas and lentils.
5. GET SOME SLEEP
Sleep is one of the most important stages of your recovery as it provides your body with the necessary downtime it needs to restore itself. A good night’s sleep allows your body to grow muscle, repair tissue and make hormones to help restore you to full health by the morning. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to allow your body to repair itself. If you have trouble sleeping, check out this article for some tips for improving your sleep.
6. RECOVER WITH SUPPLEMENTS
There are also a number of supplements which play a key role in recovery and reducing pain and soreness after a workout. Let’s take a look:
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar supplements are also great for recovery as they can help to reduce muscle cramping by restoring a PH balance in the body and replenishing the electrolytes you sweat out during a workout. Apple cider vinegar supplements can also help to reduce cravings after a workout by maintaining blood sugar levels to make it easier to avoid unhealthy snacks and stick to a healthy weight.
Probiotics are another supplement which can aid recovery from workouts as they help to improve digestion and increase absorption of vital nutrients necessary to fuel your body and repair muscles. As well as helping to ensure you absorb the antioxidants, proteins and fats you need for muscle repair, probiotic supplements also play a key role in supporting your immune system to help further aid your recovery.
We mentioned before just how important sleep is for recovery so you might want to consider 5-HTP supplements which can help you on your way to a higher quality and longer night’s rest. 5-HTP is an amino acid that is a building block for the ‘happy’ hormone serotonin which helps to naturally increase your melatonin levels for a better night’s sleep.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Whilst the tips outlined above will help to speed up your recovery and reduce muscle soreness, it’s important to listen to your body. If you’re feeling particularly sore or you’re struggling to get through your workouts, don’t force it, give yourself the rest you need and go again the next day.