Ways to Nourish & Reduce Sore Muscles
Allowing your body time to recover after a workout is essential to allow for healthy muscle
growth and overall success during your fitness journey. When you work out, the muscle that
you’re targeting forms minuscule tears. Your muscles grow because cells from the surrounding
area of your muscle make their way to the tears, replicate, and form new growth in the form of
protein strands. In order to ensure that this process occurs as efficiently as possible, it is
extremely important to take care of your body post-workout. Any tear in your body, regardless of
its location, should be treated with the same level of care that you dedicate to treating an external
injury. Because your muscles are tearing apart in order to stimulate new growth, you will
undoubtedly experience soreness in the days following any out-of-the-ordinary physical exertion.
Whether you’re just beginning your exercise journey or you have years of experience under your
belt, allowing yourself time to recover and listen to your body is crucial. Listed below are a few
ways to treat your body after your workout.
- Eat your protein!
Your muscles are made up of about 80% protein. Keeping in mind that your muscles
break down when you work out and build themselves back up. Protein supplies them with
the protein that they need so that your body doesn’t need to work as hard to recover. In
order to fuel your body properly try eating a small, protein-containing snack before you
work out to kickstart the muscle recovery process. During the two hours following your
workout, be sure to give your body a carb and protein-heavy meal. You can also try
eating a small, protein-dense snack before bed. Although eating directly before sleeping
isn’t typically recommended, a handful of nuts or a spoonful of nut butter can give your
body the protein it needs to repair your muscles as you sleep.
- Get good sleep
It seems self-explanatory, but many people do not follow a healthy sleep schedule. Sleep
is the only time in your day that your body can dedicate itself entirely to detox, repair,
and regeneration. Having a sleep schedule that allows you at least seven hours of sleep a
night will improve your recovery time and your health in general.
Stretching is a necessary and often overlooked aspect of a good workout routine. Many
people choose to stretch immediately before or after a workout but getting a good stretch
in at any point of your day will improve your mobility, flexibility, and soothe your
muscles. You can look online for the best stretches depending on what exercise you’re
participating in but there are typically a few universal rules of thumb for any stretching
routine. Firstly, ensure that you’re holding your stretches for a long enough time.
Stretching can feel like a chore but it’s crucial that you remain engaged and stretch
properly so that you don’t injure yourself. Hold each stretch for between 15 and 20
seconds before releasing and triple-check that you’re not holding your breath. Breathing
into your stretch with meditative breath will deepen your stretch and allow your muscles
to relax, releasing tension in your body. Most importantly, release your stretch if you feel
pain. It’s easy to assume that pain while stretching simply implies that you’re doing the
stretch correctly and hitting the right spot. This assumption is false and can also lead to
injury. If you start to feel pain, ease up on your stretch and relax your position until the
- Drink your water.
Drinking water before, during, and after a workout is a must. When you work out, you
sweat, of course. Your body heats up as you use more energy and in order to cool down,
it releases water, cooling your skin as it evaporates. During this process, you also lose
sodium and potassium. For these reasons, rehydrating during and after exercise especially
enables you to sweat profusely without becoming deathly dehydrated. In addition to
water, refueling with sodium and potassium will help regain the nutrients you’ve lost.
Whether you supplement with a banana, supplement capsules, or vitamin water is up to
- Take advantage of rest days.
Rest days might seem counteractive, however, even if you’re doing light to moderate
exercise, they are imperative for proper muscle development and health. Depending on
what kind of exercise you do, you might want to take rest days more or less often. If
you’re participating in moderate to intense aerobic exercise, try taking a rest day every
three to five days. People who do extreme cardio on a daily basis including endurance
runs, bikes, or swims, might try decreasing the length between rest days. A rest day does
not mean that you aren’t allowed to exercise at all. You should still get outside and get 30
minutes or so of light movement in, but know your body and its boundaries- don’t push
it. Some might find it helpful to develop a yoga or stretching routine to incorporate into
their rest days for improved muscle function. Stay active and healthy on your rest daysthey
should not be labeled as or considered “cheat days”. They are not a day off from
exercise. Skipping even a day or two of your workout can lead to three days, four, five,
six, etc… and you might find yourself in a serious rut before you know it.
Essentially, your workout routine and the post-workout routine that follows it should be
structured to fit your schedule, physical abilities, dedication, etc… Regardless, though, the only
way to make visible progress in your strength and stamina is to properly recover. Try following
the steps above and map out a typical week in your life that includes which days are rest days
and what type of exercise you plan to do on your workout days. You can hang this schedule up in
a space in your home that you often spend time in. Having a schedule helps to align your
workouts and rest days with the rest of your schedule, building a routine and making it more
difficult to skip days. Good luck- don’t forget to give your body the rest and nourishment it