How to Speed Up Workout Recovery : Maxener Wellness

Part 1 Reducing Inflammation

Warm up with dynamic range of motion activities. It has long been thought that stretching before a workout decreases inflammation and the chances of injury, but recent findings show that this is not true. In fact, stretching cold muscles can actually lead to injury and reduced performance and strength. Instead of static stretches, focus on a dynamic warm up that uses the muscles you will use during your workout and gradually increases your range of motion.

  • For instance, if you are going to run or jog, warm up by walking and incorporate some dynamic stretches, such as skipping, butt-kicks, backward jogging, side-stepping, etc.
  • Kinetic stretching, where you’re continuously moving your muscles as you stretch rather than holding a static pose, is the best way to increase circulation. Try walking forward with long, lunging steps and then swinging your arms in a circular motion.

Avoid improper sitting or sleeping poses. The way you sit or lay down can cut off your blood flow to certain muscle areas and prevent healing. Try to have your limbs unfolded whenever possible.

  • Don’t sit with your legs folded underneath you. This can restrict circulation.
  • Try to sleep flat on your back with your arms unfolded after a workout. This will maximize your circulation.
  • If you aren’t comfortable sleeping on your back, try to sleep on your left side rather than your right. Because your heart and major arteries are slightly to the right of the center of your chest, sleeping on your right side will disrupt circulation.

Apply muscle creams or ice. Ice will reduce swelling and numb the soreness. There are a number of topical creams and ointments that serve a similar effect.

  • Leaving ice on for more than 30 minutes can reduce circulation and prevent your muscles from healing.
  • Ointments that are designed to feel cold during application and then warm up later are ideal for preventing swelling.
  • Mineral Ice is an excellent option for numbing painful muscle strain.

Take an aspirin. Aspirin will temporarily prevent your blood from coagulating which, in turn, will increase your circulation and prevent swelling. It will also serve as a light pain reliever so you won’t be bothered by soreness.

  • Do not take aspirin if you are under 19 years old, as it has been linked to the development serious condition called Reye’s Syndrome.
  • Overuse of aspirin is harmful for your stomach and liver. Do not take an aspirin after every workout. Only use it when your muscles feel particularly inflamed or you have acute pain.
  • Do not take aspirin if you have any unhealed cuts on your body, especially if you got them from the workout you just completed. The coagulation that aspirin is designed to prevent is your body’s natural mechanism for stopping bleeding and healing damaged skin.

Massage your muscles. Gently rubbing the tense muscle area will relieve tension and increase circulation. Use the tips of your fingers and press lightly into your skin. Push up and down the length of the muscle until you start to feel the pain subside.

  • A massage can release endorphins that will also act as a natural pain-reliever.
  • A professional, therapeutic massage is also a good idea. Deep tissue massage techniques like shiatsu are excellent for relieving pain, improving flexibility and increasing circulation after a workout.
  • Be careful of massaging too hard which can worsen the effects of muscle strain or cause further injury.

Use a foam roller. This is another method of self-massage that is favored by trainers, physical therapists, and professional athletes. You can use a foam roller or tennis or lacrosse ball to target trigger points, or specific knots in your muscles that can cause pain elsewhere on your body.

  • To use a foam roller or ball, position the roller underneath the painful part of your body (do not use this method on a joint, bone, or your lower back). Lying on the roller or ball and moving very slowly — no faster than one inch per second — uses your own bodyweight to loosen trigger points.
  • When you reach an area that feels tight or is painful, remain there for five to 30 seconds. You should begin to feel the muscle release.

Part 2 Restoring your Energy

Stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water will remove toxins from your body that cause muscles to build up restrictive starches. It will also support your body’s natural restorative functions.

  • Dehydration will make muscle pain worse and cause you to lose energy.
  • Drink plenty of unsweetened, clear fluids including green tea with antioxidants, which help remove waste products.

Get enough sleep. Getting at least eight hours of sleep every night is essential for your metabolism and muscle rejuvenation.

  • Having a regular sleep schedule is important for your metabolism as well. Irregular sleep schedules will confuse your body and cause you to feel tired at inopportune times.

Eat the right foods. Consuming food that provides lean, easily burnable energy is essential for maximizing your workout and recovering from aches and pains.

  • Lean meats and legumes are excellent sources of healthy protein. Protein will restore tears in your muscles and give you more energy.
  • Foods with essential fatty acids (like omega-3s) will support restorative processes in your body, such as hormonal restoration and oxygen regulation. Cold-water fish and flaxseed oil are high in good fat.
  • Make fruit part of your post-workout recovery meal. Adding blueberries to a protein shake provides you with antioxidants and can speed up your muscle recovery. Tart cherries can also decrease muscle soreness and inflammation.
  • Try to avoid foods with saturated and trans fats and sugar.

Part 3 Optimizing Your Workout to Reduce Recovery Time

Practice occlusion training. Occlusion training involves blocking off the flow of blood to muscles you’re working out. This will allow you to build resistance and flexibility in your muscles and has been shown to relieve pain.

  • Buy occlusion cuffs which will allow you to restrict blood flow with precision. They are available at most sporting goods stores and some commercial gyms.
  • If you’re working on your arms, wear the cuffs on your bicep midway between the elbow and shoulder. If you’re working on your legs, wear the cuffs on your thigh midway between your knee and hip joint.

Gradually increase the difficulty of your workout. If you are trying to lift a large amount of weight or perform a large number of reps, start slow at first. Your muscles will adjust to the strain and will be more resistant to injury.

Keep a regular workout schedule. As with sleep schedule, your body adjusts to your workout routine. Try to be consistent with the with the intensity and frequency of your workouts and make sure you also incorporate rest days into your schedule. Overtraining can lead to fatigue and inflammation.

  • Make sure you are not working the same muscles every day — your muscles need 24 to 72 hours to rebuild and recover. Working the same muscles day after day causes muscle tenderness, stiffness, and reduced joint range of motion and muscle flexibility.

End with a cool down. If you’re doing a particularly intense workout, you’ll want to end your routine with a lighter exercise. Your muscles literally heat up in temperature when you’re exercising and then get colder when you stop working. That immediate change from hot to cold can make strains and injuries worse and slow down your recovery.

  • Cardio and stretching are the best options for cool downs because they keep the blood flowing through muscles without straining them.

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