5 Best Things For Muscle Recovery And Avoiding Injuries
Do you care about muscle recovery?
Recovery is one of the fundamentals of athletic progress, alongside training and nutrition. However, recovery is the most neglected part, at least for most people.
Gym time and training usually get the most attention, followed by trying your best to eat clean and intake enough protein (of course). Unfortunately, not many people pay attention to recovery, certainly not the amount of attention it deserves.
There’s one simple reason why—recovery is boring! You will never brag to your gym bros “Dude, I slept 9 hours without interruptions last night!”. Let’s face it, it is not as exciting as hitting your new bench PR.
Still, without adequate recovery, you will never break your lifting plateaus. In this article, we will give you some tips on how to make recovery less dull than it has to be, so stay tuned.
Here is advice straight from Dr. Axe
And we are adding even more
#1. Ice Baths
We start our list strong, with the most exciting way to recover your drained body—ice baths. It probably doesn’t sound like much fun, but taking ice baths is one of the best ways to speed up recovery while doing something challenging, that is good for building mental toughness. And trust us, it takes some resilience to enter a freezing cold tub when you are already banged up from your workouts.
The idea behind taking ice baths is to constrict blood vessels, which reduces swelling and slows down tissue breakdown, which often follows extremely draining workouts. It is also helpful in clearing toxins that remain in your body.
But, once you get warm, your vessels relax, releasing blood flow into your muscles again, improving circulation, so more nutrients get into the muscles quicker, speeding up their recovery.
Because the body first constricts blood vessels of your extremities, trying to keep the organs in the torso and your head warm, ice baths are especially useful after strenuous activities such as running marathons and similar, where your legs do most of the work. Tennis players also love them, as their matches often last for hours.
If diving straight into ice is too extreme for you, start with cold showers. Too much? Then shower as normal, but turn it to cold in the last minute, increasing the time with every shower. Also, try to decrease the “warm” part temperature from a shower to a shower. In a month, you will be able to completely shower in cold.
Living, walking proof is WIM HOF, a founder of the ” Wimhof Method ”. Check it out necessarily as it might change your point of view on cold water forever.
Every gym bro loves his supplement stack. It usually consists of protein, creatine, and pre-workouts, but, you should think about recovery too.
BCAAs or Branch Chain Amino Acids are one of the best supplements you can take if you want to speed up recovery. Their role is to prevent muscle breakdown, also known as catabolism, which follows extended, strenuous activities.
Citrulline Malate is another supplement that is awesome for recovery and is getting more and more popular in recent years. Its primary role is in energy production, as it promotes ATP. But, it also stops lactic acid buildup and helps to remove ammonia from the body, which starts piling up during exercise. And of course, it increases workout performance.
And if you are not that much into chemistry, and instead want something natural, try fish oil. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, one of the healthiest things you can eat (but nobody does enough). However, it is also good for your muscles, as it reduces inflammations, which will mean less soreness. It’s great for bones, hormones, and overall health, which makes it an excellent option for people of any age.
Another natural option is curcumin. Found in turmeric, this yellowish powder will enormously help recovery, as it has one of the best anti-inflammatory properties of all supplements. You can take it in pill form, topically, or you can buy it to add to food. It goes well with fish and meat.
#3. Stretching And Foam Rolling
Instead of lying around in your bed on your off-days, do something useful for your body.
Stretching will improve the flexibility of your muscles, and it feels incredibly good, as it reduces the soreness and pain, at least temporarily. While it is a good idea to stretch every muscle, especially the ones you hit the day before, some areas are tight in most people: pecs, hamstrings, hip flexors, lats. You’ve guessed it, that tightness is a result of all-day sitting. So hit those areas first.
Foam rolling, on the other hand, will loosen up your muscles (stretching will lengthen them, that’s not the same thing), while also breaking down any scar tissue that’s built up over the years of poor form and too much load. Take it slow, working on the tightest muscles first. If an area feels extra tight, spend some more time on it.
While you can do stretching and foam rolling right after your workout, it’s best to move that to your recovery days. The reason why is simple—it’s time-consuming, especially foam rolling. If you want to do it properly, you will need concentration and time. And you probably spend too much time at the gym anyway. Buy a foam roller, and do it at home, when convenient.
recommended foam rollers
#4. Light Cardio
Doing light cardio on your off-days improves circulation, but also releases the tension on the muscles. It also builds endurance and burns fat. After all, it’s cardio, the healthiest form of exercise, and the one you’re not doing enough. It’s essential for your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, which are the foundations of the whole health. 150+ minutes of cardio per week is the minimum amount you should include, but if you get 300+, you will get the most health benefits.
But keep in mind that the highlight here is “light.” Doing sprints, plyometrics, or HIIT will drain your body even more. What you need is light cycling, jogging, swimming (but not for laps!), or the best of all—walking.
Don’t overdo it, the goal is to activate the muscles and get the blood flowing, but that’s it. Learn how to take it slow, you don’t have to burn the candle on both ends with every workout.
#5. Take Sleep Seriously
Well, this one is maybe not that exciting, but sleep is the most critical part of recovery (and even health). If you do all the steps from above, but your sleep is poor, you did all that for nothing.
And yes, you already know that you need eight hours per night. If that’s impossible, sleep as much as you can, and take naps during the day. Just make sure not to nap at least 6 hours before bedtime, as you can have trouble falling asleep if you do it too late in the day.
To enhance sleep quality, do some preparation. First, make sure your room is dark. If for some reason you can’t completely turn off lights, then blindfolds (eye covers) are your best bet.
Also, keep your room quiet. If you have noisy neighbors, it’s a good idea to turn on some white noise or to use earplugs. The idea is to have a non-interrupted sleep, so do as much as possible to make sure nothing wakes you up.
Lastly, keep your room cold, as it promotes sounder sleep. If you don’t want to turn the A/C, you can sleep just in your underwear, without sheets.
Do you take muscle recovery seriously now?
While the most crucial part of recovery, sleep, is passive, you can take active steps to make it better. Other four aspects of recovery are also important, but only if you sleep is right, so pay attention to that first.
As for the other steps, they matter and can help you up tremendously. Speeding up recovery will allow you to train more frequently, but also train with more effort. That’s something often overlooked.
Making sure your body is fully recovered before your next workout is essential to prevent injuries, and have steady, long-term performance improvements. Therefore, don’t gamble, do as much as you can to help your body recover.
“There’s no such thing as overtraining, only under-recovery!”
What’s your best solution for muscle recovery?
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