Frequent physical activity is wonderful for your body and brain. We subscribe to a good sweat sesh at least three times a week and love how we feel afterwards. But, what you do after your workout can have a major impact on how your body responds to the work you just put in.
What we've learned, sometimes the hard way, is that too much exercise without proper recovery can be very damaging both mentally and physically. This is why your decisions post-workout are just as important as the workout itself.
Here are our top 5 tips for proper post-workout recovery so that you can continue to bound out of bed in the morning with more energy and strength than you did the day before.
1. Use that foam roller: You've probably been targeted by one of those new crazy vibrating foam rollers on Instagram at some point in the last month. They look pretty intimidating but don't let that scare you. Just a simple round foam roller from your gym is one of the best ways to speed up workout recovery. Foam rolling works by massaging away and breaking up fascia tissue buildup in your muscles which often leads to sore muscles and can cause injury, if neglected. The best time to foam roll is right after your workout.
2. Don't over do it: It's easy to think that a hard workout a day is the best, and fastest way, to get you to your fitness goals. Think again. The best way to rebuild stronger muscles is by letting them rest and regenerate. In fact, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that how much you rest after exercise is directly linked to an increase in your cardio endurance and strength. Make sure to take at least one day off a week along with an active recovery day like a long walk or gentle yoga.
3. Protein is your friend: You've heard us say it before, and we will say it again. Post-workout protein doesn't mean you'll get a football neck or start grunting during bicep curls while you stare at yourself in the mirror in a tank top. When you exercise, you create micro tears in your muscles that need to be rebuilt. That's where protein comes in. Protein is made of up amino acids which are responsible for rebuilding those micro-tears in the muscle. In short, without proper protein consumption after a workout, your muscles will repair more slowly making you more susceptible to injury, longer recovery times, inflammation, and less energy. We recommend 10-15 grams within 30-60 minutes of a workout. Or you know, just grab an Après!
4. Get cold: There's been a lot of buzz recently around cryo and cold therapy. The hype is real. There's a reason we use ice to reduce swelling after an injury. Now that you know you create micro-tears in your muscles when you exercise, it only makes sense to use ice as a way to reduce that inflammation and speed up recovery time. Cold showers or baths work well too :)
5. Prioritize sleep: This is an easy one to say, harder to actually implement. We all know sleep is important but putting down your phone when you are glued to Insta videos of puppies playing can be pretty difficult -- we've been there. Recently, we've been following our hard and fast "no Insta 1 hour before bed" rule. Try it this week and watch how your sleep improves.
Recovery is critical if we want to get fitter, faster and stronger. So test out some of these recovery techniques and let us know how you feel afterwards!