8 Tips To Master Fitness Recovery
Posted on December 22, 2023
The recovery process is a key part of your fitness journey. Unfortunately, all too many people miss out on the recovery process as they dive into a new health and wellness routine, whether that means hitting the weight room or heading out for a run. Check out these tips and tricks for improving your recovery and allowing you to enhance your fitness journey.
Tip #1: Enter a Hot Sauna: Sweat It Out!
The high temperatures in a sauna can help you relax after a tough workout. Many people enjoy hitting the sauna to sit back and relax after a grueling workout session, since it can ease muscle soreness. That time in the sauna can also help with your overall recovery. When you enter the sauna, the heat helps relax your blood vessels, which can help deliver both oxygen and nutrients to sore muscles. That, in turn, speeds up your recovery and allows you to get back to normal faster.
Keep an eye on how long you spend in the sauna. In general, you should not spend more than 15-20 minutes per session in the sauna. If you're just starting to use it for the first time, starting at just 5-10 minutes could be best, as you learn how your body will respond.
Tip #2: Try a Cold Plunge: Increase Sustained Recovery
The cold plunge technique has gotten steadily more attention in the fitness community, and with good reason. While taking a cold plunge might seem uncomfortable in the moment, it can actually go a long way toward increasing your overall recovery. A cold plunge involves lowering your body into very cold water, generally around 50-60 degrees, for between one minute and ten minutes. A cold plunge can help alleviate immediate soreness, allowing you to get back to your training routine faster. Furthermore, some anecdotal evidence suggests that diving in for a cold plunge can decrease overall inflammation, which means that you may see a significant impact on your recovery and your ability to get back to training. For example, athletes who engage in cold plunges may discover that they're able to lift more the next day, or that they're better prepared to participate in back-to-back athletic events.
Like other recovery strategies, however, cold plunges should be enjoyed in moderation. If you engage in them too often, you can put unnecessary stress on your body, which could result in higher injury risk or lead to greater risk of illness. You should also consult your physician before engaging in a cold plunge while ill.
Tip #3: Pay Attention to the Role of Nutrition in Recovery
Nutrition and hydration are some of the biggest components of the fitness recovery process. Using the right tools to improve your nutrition can lead to not only improvements in your overall health, but a faster recovery after even your toughest workouts.
Understanding the Nutritional Needs of Athletes
Whether you're a weekend warrior or a committed athlete, your nutrition is a key part of your fitness recovery. Eating the right foods can influence whether you are able to gain muscle and how fast, how long it takes you to recover from a tough workout, and where your body gets its energy after a workout. Experts recommend eating soon after a workout, which gives your muscles the fuel they need to rebuild effectively. Drinking a protein shake or eating a protein-filled snack post-workout can make a huge difference in your energy levels and your overall recovery.
You also need the right fuel before your workout and throughout your day. Starting the morning with superfoods like the Morning Jumpstart, for example, can provide you with the energy you need to sustain yourself through even tough workouts.
What you eat is just as important as when and whether you eat. In order to maximize your recovery, there are three key elements to take into account.
Protein is the essential building block that allows your muscles to grow. Depending on your activity level and what you're trying to accomplish, you may need between 10 and 35% of your daily calories to come from protein. Inadequate protein can slow your body's recovery and make it more difficult for you to see progress toward your fitness goals. Our protein bar collection offers a great way to make sure that you're getting the protein you need, whether you're in the middle of a heavy workout cycle or taking a rest day to rebuild.
After a workout, carbohydrates are an essential element for your recovery. During your workout, your body will use up its glycogen stores to fuel your athletic efforts. Afterwards, your body needs to replenish those stores. Unfortunately, even many athletes will underestimate the number of carbohydrates they need to rebuild those stores, raise energy levels, and aid in overall recovery. Eating oatmeal, trying a protein bar, or selecting a fuel-rich snack following a workout can help athletes recover much faster than skipping that post-workout snack or going with inadequate fuel throughout the day.
Healthy fats can help improve recovery and aid in muscle growth, especially after a heavy workout. Balancing your fat consumption can go a long way toward increasing the odds that you will get the results you want from your workout. Healthy fats provide sustained energy that can keep you going, especially when combined with caffeine. Furthermore, fats are key for absorbing essential vitamins, including vitamins A, D, and E.
Adequate hydration is essential to the post-workout recovery process. Not only does water help flush out post-workout toxins, it offers the transport mechanism that carries nutrients to your muscles following a workout. If you're not adequately hydrated, it can significantly interfere with the recovery process, leaving you more sore and with less muscle growth for the effort you've put in.
Make a habit of staying hydrated before, during, and after your workouts. Drink water before you get started, make sure you're drinking adequate water during your workouts, and drink more water when you're done. Be careful, however, not to over-hydrate, which can also lead to significant health consequences.
Not only is drinking water important, ensuring that you're using the right hydration tools is key. Hydration supplements like coconuts or trace minerals can help increase the effectiveness of your water or aid in electrolyte replacement, both of which can be essential to both your workout and your recovery.
Tip #4: Use Breathing Work to Recover Faster
After your workout, you may find yourself naturally breathing harder. Your body may stay in an elevated state, ready to take on your next challenge. In that state, however, your body is not yet ready to move toward recovery. In fact, you may find that staying in that elevated state increases the overall strain on your body, which means that you may not be ready to bounce back and get back to your former routine as quickly as you had hoped.
Regulating your breathing and practicing breathing exercises can help with that.
As part of your post-workout routine, get in the habit of practicing breathing exercises for a few minutes. Either sit up straight or lie flat, which will allow you to fully expand your lungs. Close your mouth and breathe in and out through your nose. Practice breathing in for a count of four or five and out for a count of seven or eight. Breathe through your diaphragm, rather than taking the shallow breaths that many people often fall into throughout the day. Focus on simply breathing for several minutes before you jump up and return to the rest of your day. You'll find that your body is in a much calmer state, which makes you better prepared for whatever comes next in your day.
Tip #5: Engage in Stretching for Recovery
Stretching helps ease the tension in your muscles often caused by a hard workout and can help promote healing following a tough workout. When your muscles are tense and tight, blood flow is compromised, which means that your muscles won't get the nutrients they need to recover effectively. Furthermore, stretching can help alleviate soreness and even decrease the overall risk of injury.
Make stretching a part of your regular workout routine. Prior to your workout, you may want to engage in dynamic stretching to help warm up your muscles and get you ready for your workout. After you're finished, take the time to cool down with a few easy stretches. Tailor your stretching to your workout routine, focusing on the muscles that you exercised.
In order to maximize your recovery, you may also want to make stretching part of your routine on non-workout days. Take a few minutes before bed at night or in the afternoon after you get off work to stretch, focusing on relaxing your muscles. Not only can it help with your recovery, it may boost your mood, enhance flexibility, and leave you feeling better overall.
Tip #6: Get Adequate Sleep Each Night
Sleep is a critical part of overall health. Not only does it boost your immune health, it's critical to recovering from injuries. It should come as little surprise, therefore, that sleep is one of the most essential mechanisms for ensuring a solid recovery following your workout. When you don't get adequate sleep, your body is unable to heal itself effectively. Furthermore, on short sleep, you're more likely to make mistakes that could result in injury, which could further interfere with your fitness goals.
Get in the habit of going to bed and waking up around the same time each day. Try to avoid events that will lead to excessively late nights, even if it means that you have to head home early and miss out on some of the fun. Create an atmosphere in your bedroom that is conducive to sleep: dark, white noise, and a comfortable sleeping environment. Using a supplement like Sleep and Recover can also help ensure that you get a great night's sleep. When you focus on sleep hygiene, you'll find that you're more likely to roll out of bed with the energy you need to face the next day and take on your next workout.
Tip #7: Try Compression
Compression gear, from compression socks to sleeves or even leggings, can help improve blood flow to the area you've exercised. This, in turn, delivers more nutrients to the affected area, which can speed up recovery and leave you feeling better prepared to tackle your next workout sooner. In order for compression gear to be effective, you will need to wear it for at least four hours post-exercise. Compression garments or braces can also help provide support after a tough workout, allowing you to maintain normal activity even after you've pushed yourself more than anticipated.
Tip #8: Add Yoga to Your Routine
When you're on an active fitness journey, it may leave you struggling to fit anything else into your routine. However, yoga has a number of proven benefits. Yoga is a great active recovery strategy: the perfect tool to add in on your recovery days. When you engage in active recovery, you take on a light workout, rather than remaining stationary. This increases blood flow through the body, flushing out toxins and providing more nutrients to your muscles. Yoga also focuses on strength-building and stretching, both of which are key components of your recovery journey.
Adding yoga to your schedule can be easier than you think. Try adding it before bedtime, as a great way to relax before you settle in for the night, or starting your day with a few comfortable poses. You can also use yoga as a standalone workout on your active recovery days, allowing you to get up and moving without further stressing your body after a hard workout.
Let Laird Superfood Help with Your Recovery
At Laird Superfood, we understand the value of nutrition in your recovery journey. Our supplements, bars, and hydration additives can help enhance your workouts, aid in recovery, and improve your fitness journey. Check out our options today to learn more about how we can partner with you to improve your fitness recovery.