While getting in enough exercise is essential to keeping healthy and in shape, the same is true of making sure you take time to fully and properly recover from your workouts. It might not always feel like it, but your muscles grow and your body’s health improves while you aren’t running, doing push-ups or lifting weights. It’s important to understand the specifics about what you have to gain by allowing your body to bounce back between workouts.
Understanding What Happens While You’re Recovering
When you stop working out, what happens is that your body starts to adapt to the rigors of your exercise routine. Recovering properly ensures your body is able to build up your energy reserves so that the next time you exercise, you’ll be able to finish your desired workout rather than feel worn out 10 minutes into your routine. You might also damage tissue as you’re exercising, and taking enough time off allows your body to repair those tissues.
Proper Recovery Time
As for how long you should let your body recover after working out, you’ll want to wait as many as 36 hours if you want your muscles to make a complete recovery and regain their strength. If you simply can’t wait that long between workouts, you should at least take it easy on your next routine, either focusing on a different muscle group than you worked out the day before or engaging in light flexibility stretches instead.
Incorporate Massage Into Your Routine
One of the top ways to improve recovery after a workout, is to take advantage of the benefits of massage therapy. Getting a massage post-workout can help reduce recovery time by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen in the tissues, and removing toxins. Additionally, it can help to improve circulation, flexibility, and sleep, which all play an important role in training and recovery. If you’re lucky, the massage therapist you choose uses electric massage tables, which can provide a more comfortable experience than the standard massage table.
Listen to Your Body Language
If you’re ever unsure of just how much stress you’re putting your body under, take some time to listen to what your body is telling you. One muscle group might be more fatigued than another, or you might not need as much recovery time as you thought. Either way, sharp or immobilizing pain is a sign that you need more recovery time. Any soreness you feel after a workout is completely normal and can be overcome by getting your blood circulating with a nice warm up.
Know that if you’re just getting started with exercising, your body is likely to take longer to recover than someone who exercises regularly and has done so for months or years. Beginners should focus on working out a single muscle group one day and another the next time they workout. Spacing out muscle groups allows them to recover without you having to rest longer than you’d like while also getting the results you’d like.
Give Your Body Enough Rest
How you recover is just as important as how long you take to recover. Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body. Not only does proper sleep allow your muscles to recover, it’s also essential for hormone regulation and mental clarity, both of which can improve the results of your workouts. If you have trouble sleeping, try going to bed earlier (or later if you don’t feel tired when you usually lay down), sleeping in a cooler and dimly lit environment and eating foods known to promote healthy sleep. If none of these methods help, you might want to think about meeting with a sleep specialist to see if you have a sleep or health disorder that might be preventing you from getting proper, quality sleep.
Eat Your Way to Better Recovery
In addition to time and sleep, your diet is also essential to proper recovery. Try to eat non-processed food, and keep your alcohol intake to a minimum. Junk food, sugary drinks and alcohol can hamper your recovery while debilitating your health. Before you go to the grocery store again, research the foods and brands you normally purchase to see just how healthy they are and if there’s a certain type you should get. Do yourself a favor and create a healthy meal plan for the week, and make sure anything you snack on between meals is good for your well-being.
Pay Attention to Your Posture
You might not think how you sit makes a big difference for your recovery, but it does, and that’s especially true if you spend a lot of time sitting between workouts. Poor posture can lead to back, neck and shoulder pain, which are sure to flare up during your workouts.
Focus just as much on your recovery as you do your workout if you truly want to maximize your health. Your body is sure to thank you.