To get faster, stronger, and more fit, you have to consistently train hard and push your body and mind to do more. Then, you have to rest and recover.
What Causes Post-Workout Muscle Soreness?
All exercise - especially high intensity training - stresses the body. When you push through fatigue or soreness, you’re causing microscopic damage to the muscle cells, which is part of the “break down and rebuild” process of building muscle and physical fitness.
If You’re Constantly Challenging Your Limits, Recovery Isn’t Optional; It’s Essential.
Both scientific and anecdotal evidence emphasize the importance of an effective recovery regimen. Recovering between training sessions encourages adaptation, wellness, and high performance – which are fundamental to physical fitness.
The human body is designed to adapt or perish when faced with stress. An intense, short-term stressor, followed by the appropriate recovery method, is healthy and very beneficial for your body’s systems and functions. However, repeated stressors without adequate recovery can throw your body out of balance and lead to pain, injury, and illness.
Taking Time For Recovery Lets Your Muscles Heal & Get Stronger
The demand you’re placing on your body is beneficial - IF - you take the time to let the muscles repair and rebuild. That only happens when you’re resting and allowing your body to recover.
When more stress and demand is placed on your body’s tissues - including your myofascial tissues, heart, lungs, and bones - they learn to adapt, recover, and get stronger. This allows you to work towards more strength, muscle definition, gains, and a healthier mind and body. However, if the recovery process is overlooked, it can cause a domino effect of unwanted outcomes.
What Happens When You Don’t Take Time For Muscle Recovery?
It should go without saying that too much stress can prevent your muscles from fully relaxing, healing, and growing. You’re also more likely to feel fatigue, soreness, and swelling, less likely to see the results you’re after, and more likely to experience pain and injuries.
How Long Does It Take For Muscles To Recover After A Workout?
Your recovery time depends on your unique fitness level, lifestyle, genetics, age, as well as the intensity, volume, and duration of your training.
If you prioritize quality nutrition, sleep, stress management, lifestyle habits, and fitness regimen, you’re likely to recover much faster than someone who doesn’t give their body what it needs to work at its best. If your training regimen includes mostly low-impact, low-intensity exercises, you may only feel light soreness and muscle fatigue, versus someone who lifts heavy weights and trains with intensity.
The smarter you train and recover, the less time it takes to fully recover. You’ll also have more effective workouts and see better, longer-lasting results.
What Are the Best Ways To Help Your Muscles Recover After A Workout?
Proper recovery includes rest (relaxation and sleep), refueling (quality nutrition and hydration), and regeneration (repair, resynthesis, and restoration). This healing process naturally returns the body to a state homeostasis (harmony).
Here are some easy, scientifically proven ways to speed up your post-workout recovery:
Nutrition & Hydration
What you eat and drink gives or takes away nutrients that your body needs to repair muscles and promote recovery. Adequate, quality protein, carbohydrates, essential fats, and water intake are vital in helping your body repair and rebuild between workouts.
Low-intensity, low-impact exercises like walking, stretching, dancing, and swimming promote blood flow and tissue repair without putting much stress on the body. Low impact movements also increase circulation, help your body move out waste, and stretch out your myofascial tissues, which helps reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.
One of the most effective ways to reduce muscle soreness and achieve better performance, definition, and gains is to release tension with myofascial massage therapy.
- Increased blood flow, circulation, and lymphatic flow. More nutrients are delivered to the myofascial tissues, lactic acid and waste is moved out, and the recovery process is sped up and improved.
- Improves range of motion. Increased flexibility also helps your tissues stay hydrated, nourished, and malleable so they can glide against each other smoothly and avoid restrictions, tension, and pain.
- Less muscle soreness, pain, tension, and injuries. When your muscles, connective tissue, and tendons are healthy and happy, they won’t be compressed, tense, painful, or inflamed.
- Faster, more effective recovery. When you give your body the nutrients and resources it needs to recover, it can heal itself, adapt to increased demands, and grow stronger so you can keep achieving new fitness goals.
Click here to learn why you absolutely need myofascial release therapy for better recovery, performance, and pain management.
While you sleep, your body produces the majority of the hormones and building blocks that aid in muscle recovery and growth. If you’re not letting your body fully recharge and recover with quality sleep, you’ll be operating at a deficit. Meaning, your performance, recovery, and results will noticeably suffer.
Opt for seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night. Use these self-care tips to help prepare your body and mind for restful sleep.
Listen To Your Body. Give It What It Needs.
It’s essential to pay close attention to how you feel and how your body is responding to your workout and recovery regimen. Elite athletes understand the importance of heeding your body’s feedback and making adjustments to keep maximizing their performance and results.
Exercise plateaus (when you can’t seem to push yourself harder), fatigue, burnout, and intense muscle soreness that lasts for more than a few days are some signs that you’re not recovering like you should. There may be seasons where you turn your training intensity up or down, but taking time to recover should always be a priority.
Listen to your body. Don’t sacrifice your long term results and wellbeing by over-training, under-nourishing, and neglecting recovery. Your optimal workout and recovery strategy will be tailored to meet your unique needs and lifestyle while propelling you to higher levels of performance and wellness.