Scientists agree that moving your body is good for both physical and mental health. But when we work out, our bodies undergo stress. Muscles can get microscopic tears in them as we push them up against their limits while strenuous exercise drains our bodies of vital nutrients and energy.
In order to properly benefit from working out, we need to support our natural systems and give them time to recover. Whether you exercise to burn fat or build muscle, your body needs at least one day a week to rest and repair. While there are tons of supplements and tools out there for helping with muscle recovery, some of the best tactics are actually free, and 100% natural!
HOLISTIK Tips for Natural Muscle Recovery After Intense Workouts
1. Keep hydrated. Our bodies are made up of more than 50% water, meaning that hydration is absolutely crucial for maintaining your physical health. Water helps blood flow to the muscles, providing necessary proteins and electrolytes needed for muscle repair. Bodybuilding.com details the different ways that water is an essential nutrient for our entire system, pointing out that it is especially important for muscle gains and growth.
2. Get a good night’s sleep. When we sleep, our bodies produce growth hormones and synthesize proteins that are used to repair and create new cells. This means that as we sleep, our muscles are growing. Sleep is crucial for repairing muscles that have had a tough workout, but it’s also essential for restoring our energy and ensuring that we are rested and alert for the next one!
It is likely that after a good workout, your body will naturally want to fall into a deep and restful sleep that night. If you have trouble falling asleep due to muscle pain or other factors, use a holistic aid like the HOLISTIK sleep STIK which contains CBD Wellness, melatonin, and chamomile to naturally and gently lull yourself to sleep.
3. Fight inflammation. Tiny tears in our muscles or more severe sports injuries can cause an inflammatory response in the body, resulting in soreness, pain, and in severe cases, swelling. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric, ginger or other supplements that include these ingredients, like the HOLISTIK recover STIK, can help in the recovery process.
4. Eat for recovery. A healthy diet rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins can go a long way in helping to repair muscles while restoring energy to both your brain and body. This blog post from Healthline breaks down the foods and macronutrient categories to consider when eating to support your body’s natural recovery. Superfoods like beet juice are also a good idea to add to your post-workout routine - plus they have the added benefit of being super healthy! You should also avoid excess sugar, alcohol, or caffeine during your recovery period as these are inflammatory and can cause further stress on the body.
5. Apply ice or heat as needed. If you find yourself feeling tight after a workout, your muscles may benefit from a little heat to loosen them up. A heat compress or a warm bath is helpful for relaxing tense muscles and encouraging the entire body to rest. This is especially helpful right before bed as the warmth will lull you into a deep sleep, perfect for muscle recovery.
However, heat is not ideal in all cases. If you have significant swelling in one area, opt for ice instead of heat as that will better help reduce inflammation. Ice your injury for 15-20 minutes at a time to get rid of swelling and soothe sharp pains.
6. Deal with localized muscle pain. If you have any areas that feel extra sore, you can support the body’s natural recovery with external applications. Give special attention to sore spots by using light massage, stretching, or applying a topical anti-inflammatory.
7. Stretch it out. Sometimes the worst part of a muscle-busting workout is the tightness in your muscles the next time you go for a workout. Easing back into it with some low-impact stretching before and after each workout is a great habit for warming up your muscles and protecting yourself from injury. We love this easy 5-minute post-run stretching routine from Well + Good for something quick and easy!
Whether you are a hardcore gym-goer, an avid weekend athlete, or just going to the occasional yoga class, recovery is important for ensuring that you get the best mental and physical results from your workout.
This post was written by Faye Lessler, a California-based freelance writer working towards environmental justice. She writes best while sipping black tea in a beam of sunshine.