When it comes to exercise, we should treat recovery as the process of returning our muscle function, range of motion and strength back to normal- for optimal performance. A little DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is totally normal, and to be expected particularly with resistance training. DOMS can often seem worst after an increase in training intensity, or after training for the first time in a little while. Although DOMS are normal and expected after a tough workout, they can be quite uncomfortable!! Below are some great ways to improve your recovery game and reduce the pain from DOMS a little faster!
Sleep is by far, the most effective form of recovery. When we sleep, our bodies recover and replenish- we rebuild what is damaged, and that includes our muscle cells! Most people should be aiming for a minimum of 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. (Keep an eye out for a sleep quality newsletter coming very soon!)
Stretching is one of the most common method of recovery. The primary objective of stretching is to achieve and enhance range of motion, reduce stiffness and reduce muscle soreness. BUT it is important to realise that the effects of stretching are short lived and usually only last a few minutes unless we continually implement it into our post workout routine. Regular stretching after workouts and on days between workouts, cannot only reduce the pain experienced after training, but has also been shown to improve muscle length and range of motion over time. Research to date, indicates that pain free stretching post workout is an effective addition to a recovery routine.
Foam Rolling and Massage:
We've all seen the fancy massage guns and foam rollers out there on the market at the moment... but how effective are they really? Foam rolling is thought to improve muscular performance and flexibility as well as to alleviate muscle fatigue and soreness. Generally, research that has been done on the effects of foam rolling shows that it does have short term benefits for acute flexibility, and also when done regularly can effect long term flexibility positively. More recent research has also demonstrated that foam rolling can reduce the sensation of DOMS following exercise. Massage guns have a similar effect on muscular recovery to foam rolling, as they have the same purpose for releasing myofascial tension (tightness in muscles and tendons). Overall, foam rollers and massage guns can be great tools to add to your recovery tool belt.
Adequately fuelling and replenishing your body after your workouts is crucial to proper recovery! Key focus post workout should be an adequate source of protein- around 20-30g serving for most people (to help repair muscle damage) and carbohydrates (approx 3:1 /carbs:protein ratio) to replenish glycogen stores in muscles, and to help drive protein muscle synthesis. If you need help with your post workout nutrition, reach out to a coach who can help you with this (ME)
Level up your recovery game with some of these helpful methods!