10 Go-To's For Quick Post Exercise Recovery

Take care of your body, mind and soul with these top tips

May 26, 2016 | By Dr. Derek Lawrence, ND

Whether you are looking to get into shape or have finished your third marathon of the year, your body gets tired – and we all know what happens if you live your life constantly feeling exhausted. Stress levels, anxiety and insomnia can increase dramatically if you do not how to take care of your body after you've pushed yourself physically to the limit. 

To keep yourself emotionally and mentally healthy, follow these simple steps to help your body recover quicker and more efficiently after exercise, so you can get back on your feet in no time with a new healthy routine: 

1. Don’t Skip The Cool Down

One of the most important tips in post exercise recovery is to keep moving! When you continue to be active at a low intensity for a good 5 to 10 minutes after your exercise session, it helps the lactic acid leave your muscles and reduce soreness and stiffness fast. 

2. Hydrate

We lose a lot of fluid when we exercise and it must be replaced – remember, the human body is 80% water! Water lubricates our joints and supports every metabolic function of our cells, and is essential in removing wastes and toxins. Adequate fluid replacement is especially important for people who are new to exercising as well as endurance athletes. A top tip for post exercise recovery is to drink 1⁄2 your body weight in ounces of water each day, and more if you have just exercised! 

3. Stretch

A strong muscle is a flexible muscle. Adding 10 to 20 minutes of stretching is a simple way reduce muscle stiffness and soreness. Ensure to hold each stretch for at least 60 seconds and never stretch to a point that it is painful. Be gentle, be kind – it's the only body you have! 

4. Re-fuel

Having a healthy meal or a nutrient-packed smoothie after you exercise is important for post exercise recovery as it provides the muscle tissue with the nutrients it needs to repair and restore for the next session. Ideally, the meal should be full of colorful vegetables and fruits, be rich in good fats (omega-3, think fish or nuts) and have a source of high quality protein.

It is best to eat 45 minutes after exercise as it gives your body enough time to calm down so that it can digest properly, but still provide the nutrients to the fatigued muscles. 

5. Rest Up

The body has the innate ability to heal itself and most often we just need to give it some time. Take a load off after that exercise session, sit back, relax, pat yourself on the back and allow your body to begin the healing process. 

6. Massage

Having a massage can improve circulation of blood and lymph. It will allow you to relax while helping your body rid itself of toxicity and stress. If you don’t have the time or are on a budget, try using a foam roller at home. 

7. Try Hydrotherapy

A lot of professional athletes use ice baths, have ice massages, or alternate hot and cold therapies immediately after exercise as these treatments flush the muscles of lactic acid, leading to quicker recovery. A simple alternating hydrotherapy treatment can consist of 3 minutes of warm, followed by 30 seconds of cold. Of course the more extreme the temperatures the more flushing occurs, but of course, go easy on yourself! 

8. Take Deep Breaths 

With every breath, we inhale oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a waste product in our body and is a by-product of muscle contraction. Practicing deep breathing after an exercise session will help expel excess carbon dioxide, adequately oxygenate your recovering muscles and provide a sense of relaxation after that strenuous workout.

Practice deep breathing by putting one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your chest. Inhale deeply, ensuring the hand on your belly moves further than the one on your chest. Inhale for 3 counts, hold it for 3 counts and exhale for 6. 

9. Deal With Dry Skin

Dry brushing is a type of lymphatic massage excellent for moving cellular waste and toxicity out of the muscles. Our lymphatic system is a very sensitive circulatory system that processes cellular waste. The technique for dry skin brushing involved using rapid, feather-like stroke on the surface of the skin.

Begin the massage at the extremities and work towards the center of the body. This will return the lymph to the core to be filtered and redistributed. 

10. ZZZZs

A good night sleep is critical for post exercise recovery, healing injuries and overall mental and physical wellbeing. Good sleep not only involves the length of time you are asleep, but also the quality of that sleep.

To ensure the best sleep possible, clear your mind before bed with meditation or writing down what is on the to-do list. Create a sleep routine, even on the weekends. Sleep in a cool, quiet, pitch-black room. Wear and eye mask or ear plugs if necessary. This helps promote the production of melatonin, which is a hormone in the body that promotes restful sleep. 

So remember – tune in to your body’s messages! Exercise is important, but so is listening to your body. To avoid over-training, injury or getting sick, it is important to be present, listen to what your body needs and use these top tips for post exercise recovery.

If you are feeling tired or sore, you may need to take a break from training until your body has had ample time to recover. If you begin to feel run down, maybe you should rest and be gentle to yourself to avoid getting sick.

We often think that we can just tune out the pain, fatigue or illness, but it is there for a reason – a message to tell us to back off, there is nothing wimpy about taking an extra day to recuperate. Be kind to your body and happy exercising!

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