Muscle Recovery

 Alright. So as of late, a lot of people have been asking me about muscle recovery. I don't know if it's the weather, the time of year, or if something is going around, but more often than not people are complaining about being too sore to work out. While I'm sure these are all legitimate claims, I question whether we are all doing enough on our own time to aid in muscle recovery. You warm up before and after your workout by stretching and then you are on your way; however, that five-minute stretch at the end of your workout is not enough to relax the muscles, jumpstart your recovery, or stimulate muscle growth. 

In fewer words - working out: basically just the break down of muscle, but during the actual activity the muscle itself is not growing. The growth comes during the rest. The muscles you've torn down repair themselves with greater, thicker strands of muscle fibers. Without the recovery phase, the muscles will remain sore and broken down, which in turn will cause pain and discomfort.

So the question: How do we properly recover?

Being sore is bound to happen. It's part of working out; it’s part of life. What we do to prevent the long-lasting effect is what is most important. The less time sore means the more time we can spend on actively building our muscles and developing a higher level of strength and functionality. The most obvious part of recovery is rest. Lots of sleep and resting your body is the simplest and most effective way to recover.

In addition, active recovery is a vital part of this entire process, a part that cannot be missed.  This doesn’t necessarily mean ‘going-hard’ in the gym, it simply means engaging in a light jog, brisk walk, or even a swim. Any of these light exercises aid in reducing muscle pain and soreness to help recover a bit faster.

Nutrition for your pre-workout and post-workout are super important as well. Consuming enough protein and carbs before and after a workout are important for feeding the muscles the energy they need for recovery. If you can, consume a meal two to three hours before your workout. If time is not on your side, a small snack such as a banana, yogurt or a handful of fruit is ideal. Even a protein shake with low fibre carbohydrates would be good as a pre-workout snack (the carbs will help boost energy). The best thing to do post-workout is to have a high-protein beverage, a protein shake, chocolate milk or any fruit smoothie, within one hour of your workout. During that hour your muscles are primed to absorb nutrients because they are damaged and depleted. I personally recommend a protein shake because Whey protein can take as little as 20 minutes to absorb into your muscles. Milk, on the other hand, can take up to seven hours. Both are beneficial, however, whey protein absorbs faster and usually has a good carb to protein ratio.

Helpful foods are foods high in potassium. A great example of this is bananas, oranges, potatoes, and melons, all which can help with soreness and cramping. Also, foods that may help in reducing inflammation are cherries and pineapple, and if accessible to you, fish oil is great for the joints!

Lastly, hydration. Water, water, and more water. Drinking plenty of water during and post-workout will definitely aid in muscle recovery. Water helps flush out the toxins in your body and obviously prevents dehydration. Being dehydrated causes muscle soreness, and greatly slows down the rate of recovery, regardless of how much protein or rest you manage to incorporate into your routine. Stay hydrated folks! 

Topical creams or ointments, cold baths, massages or light stretching, Epsom salt baths and icing can all help as well. 

Another way to prevent constant muscle soreness is to avoid over-training. Listen to your body. Don't overdue it in the gym. Working out consecutive days in a row is fine as long as it's not the same thing each day. Giving your muscles a chance to rest and grow is key in building, so if that means missing a day or switching it up to something lighter, then do so!

So to recap: rest your muscles, feed your muscles, and hydrate your muscles to speed up that recovery time and get back in the gym fresh and ready to go faster than ever. 

Kevin Yeboah


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