Post workout recovery step 1 - Stretch
Every workout you do should be followed by a stretch.
No excuses, no exceptions.
I know you're in a rush to get home, do dinner and get the kids to bed. But, you definitely shouldn't forgo your stretching.
Even if it means cutting your workout down by 15 minutes.
Stretching helps get rid of that lactic acid build up. It loosens up your tight muscles. Improves your posture and flexibility. It helps prevent injury.
It is crucial.
How do you do it?
If you've done an exercise class, don't worry about it too much. Your instructor should take you through a thorough cool down and stretch. But if you've worked out on your own then you will need to find stretches that target the muscles you've been working.
if you're struggling then this is a good full body stretch.
Hold each pose for 30 - 90 seconds, moving with your breath.
Big breath in ad as you breathe out move into the pose and hold. Once it starts to feel a bit easier, another big breath in and as you breathe out move deeper into the stretch. Please breathe in between as well.
Post workout recovery step 2 - Eat
This is the good part of working out right? Eating.
But what should you go for?
You fancy cake. A big slab of chocolate cake.
But you don't want to undo all of your hard work so, opt for something a bit healthier.
The important points to remember are, have something soon, and make sure it covers all of the bases. Lean protein, healthy fat and carbohydrates.
I really love to have a smoothie.
They are so convenient. You can have one straight after a workout and, they taste delicious.
A favourite of mine is, protein powder (chocolate, of course), cocoa powder (to make it extra chocolatey), frozen raspberries, spinach, coconut oil, cinnamon, oats and almond milk.
Beetroot juice is also really good for recovery, and for your workout actually. It helps deliver oxygen to you muscles, helping them to work harder/recover better.
I would warn that it turns your mouth and your wee purple.
Personally, I love the taste and think it goes really well in the smoothie I mentioned above. It's definitely not for everyone though.
Post workout recovery step 3 - Soothe potentially aching muscles
You know that ache that starts to set in about a day after you've exercised? DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). I quite like them.
Yes, I know I'm a bit of a weirdo, but when I can't sit down properly, brush my hair or walk up the stairs without saying ouch, it makes me laugh.
I do appreciate not everyone feels the same, and, they can get a bit tiresome after a day.
So, reducing the impact of DOMS should be high on your list of must dos.
How would you go about it?
There are a few things that can help.
FYI - If you don't like baths you can still benefit from magnesium. Dissolve some Epsom salts in a bowl of hot water and soak your feet for 15 minutes. Or, you can get magnesium cream and oil. Slather your body after a shower.
A hot bath with Epsom salts. Epsom slats are magnesium, and magnesium is essential to the proper functioning of muscles.
Foam rolling. Applying pressure to your muscles with a foam roller or ball can help improve blood circulation.
Sports massage. In a similar way o foam rolling, massage can help improve blood flow to your muscles, aiding recovery. They can b quite expensive though so I tend to leave them as a once a month treat.
Post Workout recovery step 4 - Track your progress
Ok, so this one isn't essential, but let's face it, we all want to see how we're improving. It's a great motivation tool.
Write down what you did. How long it took. How you felt.
Did you find the workout easy? If so, are your going to increase the intensity slightly?
Was it a tough week? Why? What else happened in your week? Are ou more stressed than usual?
These are all good points to note down in your training journal. Don't let it be just a record of your sets and reps because it won't mean very much.
Other questions to ask yourself; what did you do well? What you do differently? What gave you confidence?
You don't need any fancy training journals for this. A simple notepad will suffice. Although, if you're anything like me, you will relish the opportunity to buy some lovely new stationary.
Post workout recovery - Your turn
If you want to get the most out of your workout, make sure you are prioritising your recovery.
Finis your workout properly, don't just head home and flop on the couch. There will be time for that later, I promise.
Stretch, soothe and feed your muscles. They've done a hard job.
They deserve it.