Exercise is great and all, but working out is difficult! Chasing your grandkids around the yard, putting in some extra reps in the weight room, or running miles at a time can be a lot on the body. However, nothing in life worth having is easy. This notion includes your physical appearance, mood, and health. Working out is an important part of having a high-quality life, but going too hard can impede little day-to-day joys. It’s essential to treat your body right after putting it through training, so here are some tips for post-workout recovery.
Why Do We Feel Discomfort After Working Out?
To figure out how to deal with your post-workout discomfort, it helps to understand why you are experiencing it in the first place. Whenever you work out, your body is put under immense stress. Depending on the condition of your body, you can feel the impact of a workout up to 48 hours after exerting physical activity. There are a couple of reasons why you may experience this.
Working Out and DOMS
Working out means putting your body through some rigorous movement. When you run, weight crashes down on your joints. Snatching weights can tear little fibers in your wrists. All of these injuries put your body in a bit of shock, causing you to experience discomfort. If this continues, you may be suffering from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
DOMS is temporary pain that lasts upwards of a week after a strenuous workout. Whatever damage you did needs to heal. Lay off working out until the pain is tolerable. As you build up strength, cases of DOMS should become fewer and further between.
Lactic Acid Buildup from Workouts
Most people experience discomfort for shorter periods. While the interval may not be as long as DOMS, it can feel just as uncomfortable. This is a natural byproduct of lactic acid buildup.
When you workout, your heart rate goes up and you have to breathe faster to keep up. However, it’s hard to maintain rhythm during an intense workout. Without oxygen, your body can’t produce enough energy to keep pushing through. It turns to an alternative source — drawing lactate from your muscles.
The human body can convert lactate into energy without oxygen being present. You don’t want to produce too much lactate, though — if you don’t burn it off, lactic acid will sit in your bloodstream. As a result, you will experience post-workout discomfort. Here are some tips to avoid these uncomfortable moments!
One of the fastest growing trends in wellness is cryotherapy. Like in some futuristic sci-fi movie, you hop into a frigidly cold chamber after your workout. Putting the Polar Plunge to shame, liquid nitrogen makes chamber temperatures as low as -166° F.
Just go in for three minutes and your body will go into extreme shock. Your blood will rush to your core — many athletes insist that this zaps their muscles back to normal. While there are no studies to confirm cryotherapy is a reliable form of muscle recovery, it seems to do the trick for some athletes. If it works for them, it might work for you too!
2. Eat Healthy Fats and Proteins
When you damage tissue and muscle, your body needs to start repairing the destruction. To accomplish this task, your body relies on amino acids. Amino acids are essential for the structure of all of our tissues, cells and ligaments.
Be sure to get an array of proteins in your diet, including:
- Lean protein (chicken, fish, turkey)
- Small portions of animal fat (beef, dairy, lamb)
- Omega-3-rich plant protein (edamame, walnuts, hemp seeds)
To improve the absorption of these nutrients, it’s pivotal to include healthy fats in your diet. You may want to limit red meat intake as it is rich in omega-6 fatty acids that are harder for your body to break down. Your system doesn’t need this additional stress during post-workout recovery.
We suggest smaller portions of fatty animal muscle because these foods are high in saturated fats. These fats tend to linger in the system, making you feel lethargic after a workout. Instead, you want to eat foods rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
Get healthy post-workout fats including:
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Dark chocolate
- Raw cheese
Combining lean proteins and healthy fats after a workout is the first step toward replenishing your body’s lost nutrients. Further enhance your meal by consuming complex carbs such as leafy greens, sweet potatoes or quinoa.
Dehydration may further exacerbate the stiffness you feel after an intense workout sesh. Working out causes us to sweat out a good portion of the water in our system, so there might not be enough water to help your body operate properly.
While there are no set standards for how much water an individual should drink each day, many are guilty of not properly hydrating after a workout.
Regardless of how much water you drink daily, you should expect to consume even more after working out. Try to drink at least one glass of water within a half-hour of completing an exercise. As a bonus tip, drink water throughout your gym session. It will help prevent lactic acid buildup and muscle cramping.
4. Eat Your Potassium
There’s a reason why marathon runners vouch for bananas. The body draws on many essential vitamins and minerals during physical exertion. One of the primary minerals your body wipes out of the bank is potassium.
Potassium is an electrolyte, so it provides energy. Perhaps even more importantly, this mineral impacts muscle contractions. Therefore, a potassium deficiency leaves your limbs susceptible to cramping.
Eat some of these potassium-rich foods after a workout:
- Sweet potatoes
The easiest way to provide your body with this nutrient is to make a smoothie. Smoothies are quick, full of potassium and delicious. Just mix and match some of the fruits and veggies above with your other faves and replenish your potassium on the go!
5. Stretch it Out with Yoga
Sometimes the best therapy for a sore muscle is a healing breath and some mindfulness. Running, Crossfit and weightlifting are all tough on the body. We throw it around and expect the poor thing to feel wonderful, but life is about balance. Sometimes you need to take a step back from the weight room and a step onto the yoga mat.
Yoga is a great way to listen to your body. You can get in tune with where the discomfort resides. From there, slowly breathe into whatever position is giving you a slight resistance. Eventually, you might feel the muscle sort of “give”. It releases tension and you feel less pain.
If you feel even more pain, get out of the position — the goal of yoga is not to force yourself into positions. This practice is a marriage between breath and movement. If you can’t breathe through the pain, then leave it be for another day.
6. Massage the Discomfort Away
There is something to be said of the human touch. Massages went from being a splurge on a honeymoon to a credible form of therapy. Therapists can work through post-workout kinks by moving around the fascia.
Fascia is the connective tissue between our muscles and takes the worst beatings during a workout. By moving fascia about, you can help relieve some of the tension in your problematic areas. At the very least, a massage feels amazing.
7. Get Some Sleep
There may not be anything that is more restorative for the body than getting some shut-eye. When you sleep, your system can finally concentrate on its primary goal of keeping your body balanced and healthy.
Living a healthy life is the best way to live, but it’s not without its drawbacks. Physical exertion, excessive focus on not quitting, rep counting and meal planning are all mental and physical drains. Sleep is the only time your body doesn’t feel the stress of everyday demands.
Sometimes you get an extra rush of energy following a workout that can make falling asleep more difficult. If you need support in catching some Zs, consider trying all-natural products like Joy Organics CBD Softgels with Melatonin for Sleep.
8. Hemp Extracts for Support
A growing trend in the world of sports is using CBD oil to assist in post-workout recovery. There are many ways to use hemp extract after a workout. For example, add a couple of drops of a CBD tincture into a post-workout smoothie to help your body’s wellness.
In anticipation of post-workout recovery, you can opt to use CBD Softgels. CBD Softgels must be digested by the system first, so be sure to take them before a workout. That way your body has enough time to break down the capsule and absorb the cannabinoids.
We hope these tips help you feel great after your next workout! You may not find the need to try them all — you know your body best, so only do what you think will help the most. Let us know your favorite practices for recovering after a hard workout in the comments!
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Todd Smith is Joy Organics Chief Partnerships Officer and Co-founder. Before Joy Organics, he worked in the wellness and nutritional industry for over three decades and helped generate over 1 billion dollars in supplement sales. He has applied that knowledge and experience to empower over 1000 businesses through Joy Organics’ partnership programs. Todd is also the author of a book, podcast, and blog titled Little Things Matter.