It should be fun getting in shape or staying in shape: lifting weights, doing push-ups, jogging on the treadmill. However, it’s never fun when the muscle aches creep in after the workout. It feels like your body is breaking down, which is exactly what is happening—quite literally. So, that means that your body needs to recover, which doesn’t mean that you can lie on the couch, watch TV, and stuff your face with pizza. Rather, it means that you can do the following things:
It’s important to drink substantial amounts of water during your workout to keep yourself hydrated. It’s also important to do so after your workout. Not only does the water get rid of toxins, it also speeds up muscle recovery. Overall, getting the right amount of water prevents your muscles from becoming painful.
Drink a post-workout protein shake
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), taking post workout recovery nutrition—more specifically, a protein shake—may help reduce the level of muscle soreness. Although there are several brands of workout recovery supplements out there, it is best to get a protein shake with a 2-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.
Work those joints
Keep yourself nimble by moving your arms, legs, wrists, and knees in circles—clockwise and counterclockwise. By opening and closing your joints repeatedly, fresh synovial fluids can go in to nourish, hydrate, and lubricate them. The fluids also remove waste and scar tissue. Stretching is not just for post workout periods; it’s great for off-days, too. Keeping nimble at all times drastically reduces the chances of getting injured, as well as reducing the pain of old injuries. Get comfortable with doing full-body stretches and light exercises like planks, squats, and lunges.
Roll out sore muscles
If you are feeling soreness or tightness in your muscles after a workout, you can try foam rollers. Cheap but effective, foam rollers are long and soft enough to massage your muscles and speed up muscle recovery times. According to the NIH, foam rollers break up scar tissue and knotting in the fascia, which is the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles and is usually the root cause of the soreness. Or you can simply get an old-fashioned massage, which can provide the same effect.
Get some NSAIDs
Although they should be used sparingly and taken only with the recommendation of your doctor, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve muscle discomfort and thus speed up recovery time. Examples include ibuprofen and naproxen.
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