How To Recover After A Workout?

Whether you frequently work out or are just getting started, recovering after a workout is a critical part of being able to reap the greatest benefits from your workout! Proper recovery also helps prepare your body for the next workout. Continuous work with little to no rest at all is actually detrimental to the body and overall ability to train! The growth and desired adaptations from the workout are only possible if the body is given the proper amount of time to recover!  The recovery process can be divided into two separate categories, active recovery (regeneration) and passive recovery (rest). Both types of rest are beneficial and needed in the overall recovery process.

Passive Recovery

Sleep- One of the key methods of passive recovery is simply sleep! Your body needs sleep in order to recover not only physiologically from the stresses of the workout but also psychologically. The body needs close to 8 hours of sleep each night in order to have to opportunity to fully recover. This sleep should start before midnight as well.  Many people are busy with their jobs, taking care of children, as well as other everyday challenges that life throws at you so it can be challenging to get 8 hours of sleep every night. However, schedules should be set around getting enough sleep by all means possible. Sleep should never be underestimated as to how crucial it is to the overall recovery of the body.

Nutrition- The food that you eat is what is going to fuel your body moving forward! You cannot fuel your body with food that is unhealthy and lacks required nutrients and expect your body to perform at the level you want it to. In order to achieve the necessary recovery, daily recommended values for all food groups should be met as well as making it a priority to consume enough water. Removing added sugars as well as trying your best to not eat processed or fast food are a few simple tips that can make a huge difference. Changes to the recommended values can be modified depending on your overall training goals! Just remember food is fuel so choose correctly!

Psychological unloading- Meditation and different breathing techniques can substantially help with psychologically unloading the mind. The mind is the ultimate driver of our body so proper steps need to be taken in order to ensure that the mind can fully recover so it can perform at a high-level day in and day out. Simply taking 5-10 minutes before bed to do some positive visualizations as well as doing breathing techniques such as Box Breathing are great ways to release the stress that has accumulated throughout the day. No breathing or meditation technique is better than another so find one that works for you and stick to it!

Active Recovery

Massage- Whether it is self-massage, using a foam roller, tennis ball, your own hands, or going to a massage therapist, massage can play a huge role in the body’s ability to recover. Massage can help improve and promote blood flow in specific areas as well as helping relax muscles that are tight or sore. Massage can be done daily and can take up as little or as much time as individuals have available.

Stretching- Dynamic, as well as static stretching, have both been proven to be beneficial in recovery processes. Stretching can improve mobility and flexibility as well as a range of motion in and around joints! Stretching can also be used as a tool to reset your nervous system and return it to normal levels after a bout of stress (exercise).  

Compression/Percussion Therapy- Using technology such as Normatec Dynamic Air Compression systems allows you to effectively mimic the muscle pump of the legs and arms, enhancing the movement of fluid and metabolites out of the limbs after an intense workout. This will enhance blood flow and make for a speedy recovery, provide a high-tech warmup and a dynamic way to recover faster, and flush out soreness and bring oxygenated blood to the part of the body furthest from the heart. In the same light, Percussion therapy concentrates targeted pulses of pressure into the muscle/tissue of the body, helping to relieve muscle pain, stiffness, and soreness, and increase range of motion. Percussive stimulation provides comprehensive relief by reaching both the superficial and deep muscle fibers.

Hydrotherapy- The use of hot tubs and cold tubs has long been used as a way to help with the recovery process. Both have been shown to provide some sort of recovery benefits. The purpose of a cold tub or an “ice bath” is to help cool down the athlete’s overall body temperature after an intense workout. By cooling the body’s overall temperature down, it allows the body to spend fewer resources towards reducing the body’s core temperature and allows those resources to be used towards actual recovery processes. The cold tub has also been shown to provide anti-inflammatory effects to the body as well as decrease the athlete’s perception of soreness up to 24 hours after the cold tub is used. A hot tub has also been shown to be useful in recovery as well. A hot tub is a great way to allow the body and its tissues to relax after a training session which promotes necessary blood flow and lymphatic draining to occur. If athletes are fortunate enough to have both cold tubs and hot tubs present they can be used in conjunction to help with recovery. Sitting in the hot tub for the 60s followed by sitting in the cold tub for 30s can promote a pumping/flushing effect in the body. This also promotes increased blood flow which allows nutrients needed to help with recovery to enter the tissues while also removing the negative byproducts leftover from the workout! 

Other Activities- One of the simplest and probably the most enjoyable forms of active recovery is doing other activities outside of your training set. Going for a hike, light swimming, or going for a jog are all great forms of active recovery. These activities allow individuals to get their heart rate slightly elevated and their blood pumping while not exerting themselves the same they would during a normal training session.

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Adding more recovery methods to your routine will start to show their benefits right away. If you would like more guidance on how to properly choose the right recovery methods to best suit you, please reach out to us and we will help you reach your goals.

-Written by Hunter Sylte, CSCS


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