Remedies for Muscle Recovery During Weight or Resistance Training
I'm sure everyone who has ever been through a resistance training workout knows all about the dreaded feeling of getting up the next morning: You feel like you’ve been hit by a bus. It feels like you have done some serious damage to your body and you’re hurting in muscle groups that you never knew existed.
Well, you’re right. Those muscles have taken a hit. But luckily for you, they’re not going to take that lying down! Your muscles are going to repair and come back bigger and stronger, and they’ll be ready to deal with the onslaught of your next resistance training session, once you give them a chance to recover.
This rebuilding and repairing process of your muscle training is crucial, and it’s important for you to understand the best things that you can do to support your body to ensure you are getting maximum results from this stage. That’s how you’ll develop stronger, leaner, and more resilient muscles that bounce back bigger and better after each and every workout.
Consider these muscle recovery remedies for your resistance training:
1. Stretch After Each Workout
Preparation is always going to play a huge role in how your muscles get through a workout and how they are going to bounce back post-workout. It is important to warm up your muscles with some dynamic stretching before your workout starts — think active movements that take your muscles through a full range of motion. This will really help you to avoid straining or pulling a muscle.
Stretching post-workout can help improve your circulation and increase blood flow to your muscles, which in turn can help them heal more quickly after a workout. When you perform an intense workout, your body pumps blood to your heart faster, rapidly increasing your heart rate. Stretching allows your body to cool down and also helps your heartbeat return to normal.
Stretching also breaks the release of lactic acid that occurs during an intense workout, which allows muscle recovery and repair. Static stretching is recommended post-workout. These are stretches where you stand, sit, or lie still and hold a single position for an extended period of time, say approximately 45 seconds.
2. Avoid Training Overload
It’s important to supplement your workouts with time off or rest days. When you’re training with weights or performing other high-intensity or high-resistance exercises, it's important that you factor in days that your body can rest, recover, rebuild, and re-energize. Your muscles can’t recover if you don’t give them time to do so.
3. Use Foam Rollers on Your Muscles
Foam rolling is a must for me when it comes to muscle recovery. It can help relax muscle tension, break up scar tissue and knots, increase blood flow, and reduce inflammation. I like to jump on my foam roller straight after a workout, and before some static stretching. Sometimes it's nice to use a foam roller on your muscles in the morning when you get out of bed if you’re feeling extra stiff.
4. Take Ice Baths
Taking a 10 to 15 minute dip in very cold water after an intense exercise session can also help to reduce muscle pain, strain, or soreness. Ice baths are said to decrease the amount of inflammation in your muscles, which helps to promote a speedy recovery (similar to how you’d use an ice pack after pulling a muscle).
Active Muscle Recovery for Resistance Training
Recovery doesn’t always entail total inactivity. There are definitely days when passive rest is what your body needs. But other times, taking a more active approach is the best way to boost recovery from exercise.
Active recovery means including low-intensity and low-resistance exercises that help blood flow to the muscles, helping them to recover better and faster. Some active muscle recovery exercises include yoga, pilates or swimming.
On active recovery days, you should pay attention to your breathing and make sure you choose optimal active recovery exercises that won’t strain the muscle groups you targeted during your high-intensity training. You should finish an active recovery session feeling refreshed, energized, and ready for the next day’s training.
Here are some key points to focus on during your active recovery sessions:
- Address common problematic areas, such as poor thoracic or ankle mobility
- Pay attention to whether your hip flexors feel tight or if your core or glutes feel weak
- Elevate your heart rate and break a sweat without the additional joint stress that comes with traditional cardio or HIIT workouts
- Focus on getting additional blood flow to sore or stiff areas
- Prioritize unilateral and isometric movements
- Prepare your body for its next training day without causing fatigue
As you can see, when it comes to muscle recovery there are plenty of things to try. Everyone’s body operates and reacts differently so while these options may work for you, they might not for your training partner. Your body will react to workouts differently, which means that your body will recover differently. Try each method out and see what suits your body and your training routine.
Keep in mind, if you’re struggling to recover even after trying these methods, you may want to speak to your doctor to see if your current training regimen and recovery methods are right for your body.