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What To Do After a Workout: Your Muscle Recovery Questions Answered
Taking steps to optimize your post-workout recovery can change your entire game. If you’re wondering how to recover after a workout the right way, check out our blog. We have plenty of tips on the ideal post-workout recovery!
A workout doesn’t end just because you leave the gym; recovery after a workout is crucial! Although exercise is great for your body, it’s also highly intense, and you need to let yourself recover properly. This is a critical process—a properly recovered body is a healthy body that will perform better in the future.
Over here at Jack City Fitness, we’re muscle recovery pros. Here, we’re answering all of your questions about muscle recovery after workout sessions.
What Are the Best Vitamins for Muscle Recovery?
Several vitamins are crucial for proper post-workout recovery. Low vitamin levels can deter the muscle recovery process after exercise, leading to discomfort, pain, and difficulty maintaining athletic performance. There are specific vitamins (and minerals) that should be consumed in tandem with physical activity, like:
- Vitamin C
Orange-you glad Vitamin C exists? Perhaps the most famous of all nutritional supplements, Vitamin C is present in several everyday food items, most notably citrus fruits, particularly oranges. Vitamin C is essential to the human body—it plays a major role in collagen synthesis and is a known antioxidant. It’s even been used to treat several diseases and illnesses. On the flipside, deficient levels can lead to scurvy, which is fatal when left untreated. (Thankfully, this is a fairly rare phenomenon in the modern USA.)
Vitamin C is particularly helpful in the scope of athletics and post-workout recovery. If you are considering taking supplements for muscle recovery after workout sessions, we definitely recommend Vitamin C, as a daily dose can reduce the inflammation and pain that come from a heavy workout.
Without the right amounts of B-Vitamins in your system, you might be more susceptible to anemia and other health issues. In particular, low levels of B-5 can lead to joint problems like stiffness and pain. Many athletes take B-5 and other B-Vitamin supplements to help with this.
This group of vitamins is known for its ability to aid in the healing process. Vitamin B-5 has been shown to improve wounds. It also promotes collagen synthesis like its friend Vitamin C. B-Vitamins also help your body absorb more energy from the foods it consumes. For this reason, it’s the active ingredient in quite a few energy drinks and products.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E has many talents; although athletes prefer it for joint recovery and muscle repair, that’s only one of its uses. In addition, it’s known in the beauty and skincare world as a stellar facial treatment, while in healthcare circles, it’s revered for its antioxidant properties and treatment of arthritis.
We recommend taking Vitamin E supplements following a heavy workout or intense activity to help alleviate soreness and inflammation.
What Is the Best Recovery Food After Workout Sessions?
It’s essential to nourish your body after a workout to help ensure a better recovery. In general, a post-workout meal will satiate your hunger, energize your body, and help your muscles recover.
After a workout, athletes need to consume plenty of protein. This will help your body recover quicker and easier and allow for better athletic performance in the future. However, some athletes find it challenging to incorporate or cook a full, protein-rich meal following their gym time. Fear not; there are still many ways to give yourself the protein that your body craves after a workout or a busy day. Welcome to the wonderful world of protein shakes!
We love shakes and smoothies after a gym sesh. They are a flash to prepare and consume, but they pack a serious punch. They also come in an enticing array of flavors and variations; a simple internet search will come up with hundreds of combinations of fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and protein-laden whey powders. Yum!
Is Yoga Helpful for Workout Recovery?
It sure is! However, it’s important to remember that yoga is an expansive practice. Some forms of yoga are better-suited to post-workout recovery than others. An hour-long Bikram class, for instance, is an intensive form of exercise on its own. While recovering from a workout, it’s better to look for a gentle form of yoga and to practice it for a shorter period. A 10-15-minute gentle yoga session can ease muscles back into a healthy resting state, as opposed to suddenly dropping their activity levels from a hundred to zero.
Ready to cool down with some yoga? Try our routine:
- Begin by laying on your back and engaging in focused breathing; three breaths in, hold for three, exhale for three.
- Gradually build your breaths up to six, and then perform a vinyasa flow.
- Repeat this entire sequence over the course of 10 minutes.
- Finish by laying flat on your back again for a few minutes.
What’s the Deal With Compression Socks?
Plenty of athletes swear by the use of compression socks for post-workout recovery. This is due to their ability to reduce swelling after an intense gym session or sports match.
These socks are widely available—check your local drug store—and typically inexpensive. After your next workout, give them a try; just make sure to shower and dry thoroughly before use. As you wind down from your session, the socks will keep the blood flowing to your legs. Many runners also wear them during races to keep the circulation in their leg and calf muscles strong.
Why Are Ice Baths So Popular With Athletes?
This is sort of a “Don’t knock it until you try it” kind of deal. Athletes who have yet to plunge into an icy bath after a workout find it intimidating. Meanwhile, those who have tried it swear by it for post-workout recovery. We consider it a game-changing experience that ticks all the boxes for a good post-gym routine:
- It’ll Wake You Up
Post-workout fatigue is certainly uncomfortable, but it’s not permanent. After your next workout, take a big gulp of electrolyte-laden water, and then try jumping into an ice bath. When you reemerge, you’ll feel refreshed.
- It’ll Cool You Down
When you’re blotchy, red, and dripping with sweat, there’s nothing quite like an icy plunge or even a cold shower to cool your system down.
- It’ll Heal Your Muscles
Best of all, an ice bath is a great way to get your circulation flowing—and that’s great for your tired muscles. When you enter an ultra-cold body of water, your blood vessels constrict and drive blood flow away from your muscles. Emerging from an ice bath or a cold shower causes those vessels to open again. The blood that flows through them (and back to your muscles) is more oxygenated than before. In turn, your muscles have better tools to heal from their stress.
How Do I Stay Hydrated After a Workout?
Recovery after workout sessions should involve plenty of hydration. When you engage in a heavy workout session, you’re probably going to sweat quite a bit. That’s a very normal part of exercise, but it has drawbacks, too. Excessive sweating can cause the body to lose a lot of water—and water is a crucial muscle function. As a result, many athletes feel weak and exhausted after a workout.
To avoid the negative effects of water loss, be sure to drink plenty of hydrating fluids before, during, and especially after your workout. Plain water is always ideal, but many athletes prefer to gulp something with electrolytes or other hydrating elements while winding down from a workout. Lots of athletes choose unflavored coconut water after a workout, as its potassium levels aid in liquid absorption. Others go for low-sugar sports drinks with added electrolytes. Many stores also carry electrolyte powders and tablets that can be added to regular water, which are great for traveling light and muscle recovery.
How Important Is Rest After a Workout?
Every living thing needs to rest sometimes. That can be hard to remember; modern life is busy! It can be easy to barrel from responsibility to responsibility. If you can, try to take some time for yourself after your workout. You need it to unwind, both mentally and physically. It doesn’t need to be an extended break, but even ten minutes of post-gym relaxation and self-care can make a big difference in your mental and physical health.
Some of our favorite ways to chill for workout recovery are:
Even a brief meditation sesh can restabilize you physically, mentally, and spiritually before you carry on with the rest of your day. There are many apps and websites that offer guided meditations, or you can practice one of your own.
So, you’ve got a protein shake in one hand, an electrolyte drink in the other, and you’ve just pulled on your compression socks. It’s time to call your best friend. A quick catch-up with somebody you love is a great way to relax and feel emotionally fulfilled. (Plus, you’re dying to tell someone about the awesome Elite Movement class you just tried.)
- Sitting Outside
You can’t ignore the restorative values of the great outdoors. By spending a few minutes outside after your warmup, you’ll feel rejuvenated by the fresh air, natural breeze, and exposure to a bit of sunshine.
- Listening to Music
Before you press on to your next activity, give yourself time to sit still and listen to your favorite song. Don’t use your phone or engage in other distractions, just close your eyes and relax.
- Taking the Scenic Route
If you’re driving to work, school, or another responsibility after your workout, give yourself the gift of a nice view and take the more scenic route to your destination. It’ll be a pleasant treat just for you. Bonus? If you’re in Boise like us, you know that almost every route is a scenic one.
Without a great gym, there’s no intensive workout to think about, let alone recover from. Come visit us over at Jack City Fitness! We offer specialized one-on-one coaching sessions, classes, nutritional counseling, and much more. Our facility is open 24/7 to our partners, and we are always here to support you in your athletic endeavors. Give us a shout online or call (208)-999-1111 to sign up for a FREE fitness consultation here at our gym. While you’re here, you can say hello to our team, peek into our classes, and see why we’re Boise’s number one fitness center!