Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. On days when your workout lands you on the couch, it can feel like you’re somehow stuck between the two. Feeling sore can make you feel accomplished, but feeling burnt out can cause you to feel lifeless.
Whatever your fitness personality is; a regular runner, a gym fanatic or a yoga warrior, it’s important you take recovery seriously if you want to feel good. Rather than letting fatigue and soreness get the best of you, try out these science-backed tips to help your body recover quickly.
1. Get enough sleep
We’re all well aware that a lack of sleep can wreak havoc on our health, but getting enough of it can work wonders. Many studies show that sleep deprivation can lead to poor performance and recovery.
2. Turn on the tunes
Many people find music emotionally healing, but it can also be great for aiding in exercise recovery, too. Slow-tempo songs work to reduce blood pressure and pulse rate quicker after a workout sesh.
3. Get enough protein in the morning and at night
Protein for breakfast can provide your muscles with the necessary ingredients to begin rebuilding while also reducing your cravings for junk food later on. Before bed, eat a light, protein-rich snack to allow your muscles to keep repairing overnight.
4. Drink tart cherry juice
When you wake up feeling stiff from yesterday’s intense exercise, sip some tart cherry juice to reduce the swelling from the muscle damage that occurred from your latest workout. This will allow your body to recover faster and ease the pain as well.
5. Drink plenty of water
If you’re not hydrated enough while exercising, you can make it harder for the body to repair itself, causing some serious soreness and pain from over-damaged muscles. Steer clear of dehydration by keeping water on hand prior, during and post workout.
6. Cut back on the booze
Like your post-workout cocktail or two? No problem, but if you’re worried about feeling stiff the next day, you might want to reconsider your alcohol consumption. Research has found that one or two drinks after exercising can reduce the body’s ability to recover.
7. Try out the foam roller
When we experience soreness, it’s a result of our muscles and fascia getting knotted, which is why it’s important to remove the pressure points. It’s not exactly soothing, but foam rollers certainly do the trick.
8. Treat yourself to a massage
Can anyone really say no to a massage? They’re the go-to muscle relaxer, and just like foam rolling, work to break up scar tissue and stop stiffness from keeping you down and out.
9. Take a cold bath plunge
You might scream at first, but it sure is worth it. Research says that a cold, full-body plunge post exercise can reduce soreness and inflammation for a whole 24 hours after working out.
10. Throwback some blueberries
Berries are fun to eat, and good for you, too. In fact, a 2011 study found that volunteers who ate 250 grams of blueberries every day for six weeks before running for two and a half hours had reduced oxidative stress and inflammation compared to the volunteers who didn’t.
11. Relax in the sauna
The sauna always feels the right thing to do post workout, but a recent 2015 study involving 28 subjects with half using the sauna, found that measures of pain were decreased in the group pre-treated with the sauna. So go ahead and indulge!
You’ll definitely need some recovery time after a bout of lifting like a girl.