Working out is a great way to maintain your physical and mental health. However, recovering from your workout is just as important. Caring for your body immediately after a difficult exercise session is vital. It will help you become stronger, keep you from injury, and make you feel great.
You might not want to take the time to stretch after killing yourself in the gym but it is necessary to maintain your strength. A loose muscle is a strong muscle.
If you let your muscles become too tight, you run the risk of injury, keeping you out of the gym altogether. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds at a time and relax into them. Breathe deeply and enjoy the sensation.
More: 6 Ways to Develop Flexibility When You Hate Yoga
2. Foam rolling
Foam rollers are used to just be for serious athletes, but they have become more and more popular for everyday gym-goers. Foam rolling is a form of myofascial release that helps your muscles relax.
This is a chance to give yourself a massage and release those trigger points that are giving you trouble. When you first try foam rolling, you might find that it is painful. That’s okay, it is just a sign that your muscles are very tight and need to be foam rolled.
3. Drink up
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to hydrate after your workout. Even if you drank water while you were exercising, it is still important to drink afterward.
You lose a lot of water while you sweat and you need to replenish your body. It is fine to stick with just water. Many sports drinks have a lot of sugar in them, and you do not want to drink your calories after you worked so hard to burn them.
4. Fuel your body
There is no need to fast after a workout. While drinking sugary sports drinks is not recommended, a healthy snack is a must. Ideally, your post-workout food will be high in protein and carbohydrates. This is the best time to eat carbs because your body will absorb them quickly and will not turn into fat.
Protein is essential to help rebuild your muscles. If you are hoping to gain muscle, eat within 30 minutes of your workout. If you are looking to lose weight, be sure to eat within the hour.
More: 10 High Protein Foods to Keep Your Appetite in Check
While this may seem obvious, I am not recommending your usual steamy hot shower to relax and get clean. Consider a cool shower after your workout to help your muscles recover. You have heard of elite athletes taking an ice bath after a workout right?
This is the same concept. Allowing your muscles to literally cool down will help them recover more quickly, which will let you go harder at the gym for your next workout.
Using these techniques will help you become stronger and faster in the gym. Avoiding injury is a must whether you want to build muscle or lose weight. Not only will stretching, hydration, and proper nutrition help you in your recovery, it will make you feel better overall.