You had a great workout yesterday, but when you went to get out out of bed this morning or brush your teeth you felt muscles you never knew existed. It’s usually the result of high-intensity resistance training that you’ve not done in a while or a new gym program. Fear not! I’m going to tell you how to recover after exercise.
First up let me tell you why you’re aching and your muscles are sore. It’s called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). “DOMS describes a phenomenon of muscle pain and soreness that is felt 12-48 hours following exercise, particularly at the beginning of a new exercise program, after a change in sports activities, or after a dramatic increase in the duration or intensity of exercise and subsides over the next few days.”(1)
They’re a product of working hard, so you should feel proud of yourself, but the last thing you want is to be so sore that you have to miss your next session. Let’s start speeding up your recovery!
Stretch & Roll
Stretching your muscles can lead to improved flexibility, range of motion and posture. Foam rolling increases blood flow to your muscles, which can help alleviate muscle tightness and soreness. Both these techniques can reduce the risk of injury, as well as support recovery and contribute to less severe DOMS. Try to stretch and/or do some foam rolling at the end of every workout.
If you are really tight a day or two after then I recommend stretching those muscles after a warm shower in the morning. Don’t do it straight out of bed in the morning, you need your muscles to be warm.
If you’re not quite sure what to do with a foam roller, there’s a great video for you to watch right here.
“It is essential to support your training with a balanced diet which supplies you with all the valuable nutrients you need to recover. This includes carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores, protein to facilitate muscular growth and repair, and tonnes of greens to keep your vitamin levels topped up. Don’t forget to stay hydrated too, as dehydration can lead to poor cognitive functioning and low energy levels.”(2)
Have you ever had to hold onto the railing whilst walking down stairs after leg day? It’s hard but moving around gets the blood pumping and will help to flush out any toxins within the damaged muscles. If you’ve done heavy Squats on Tuesday, then get up and do some bodyweight squats as you’re getting ready for work on Wednesday. Use the same muscles you did the day before so they have less opportunity to seize up.
We take our bodies for granted, they are amazing machines which we put through gruelling workouts, increased levels of stress from our jobs or home life, sometimes we fill them with junk food and then we deprive them of sleep. Sleep is essential. It is when your brain and body grows and repairs. The more sleep you get, the better you function.
Create a bedtime routine; take off your make-up, go to bed at the same time every evening, I usually start the process of packing my bag for the next day at 10pm, and am in bed by 10:30pm. That will set me up with just over 7 hours of sleep a night, which is just right for me. Most people sleep between 6 and 8 hours per night, and it’s a case of finding what works best for you. Make sleep a priority, your body needs to recover and get ready for another day!
Feel like you’re missing out? If you haven’t experienced DOMS or rarely get them it doesn’t mean you’re not working hard enough. Every body reacts differently, so long as you’re pushing yourself in your workouts, you’ll be making progress. Not feeling sore is also a sign that you’re doing a great job at looking after yourself.
Keep up the great work, Lucy x
If you would like help with your training and nutrition, check out my online training programs designed for women who need some advice and accountability to get the results you deserve.