How To Recover After A Workout or Run
By Takia McClendon
Most athletes and fitness enthusiasts spend a lot of time training for their next big event or working out to get fit and gain strength. They do more reps, more laps, and add more weights in hopes to see better results. Would you believe me if I told you that without recovering properly - even with all that training - you can hinder your body from becoming stronger and performing at your best? Bummer, I know.
Not only can poor recovery habits reduce your fitness gains, they can also lead to unnecessary injuries and physical or mental fatigue. I meet athletes who skip out on recovery for weeks or months at a time and risk missing their big race because they're dealing with avoidable injuries related to muscles soreness and tightness. Don't let this happen to you.
I created this quick guide to help you learn recovery methods you can do at home or in the gym. If you're looking for product recommendations to help make recovery easier, scroll down to the second portion of the post.
[This list includes Amazon affiliate links. If you decide to purchase a product after reading this post, help us keep the lights on at cityfitgirls.com by clicking the product link.]
These tips make recovery a piece of cake.
[Spoiler: eating cake didn't make this list]
Stretch after you run or workout: I know what you're thinking, "I don't have time to stretch". If you have to head out for your run 10 minutes early to make time to stretch afterwards, that's what you should do. Stretching after a tough workout helps increase flexibility and range of motion which helps reduce injuries associated with muscles tightness.
Hydrate: During a run or workout, you are going to lose electrolytes through sweat. This can lead to muscles cramping, soreness, and fatigue. Replenish your body with 16-20oz of an electrolyte-based drink like nuun to help restore energy levels. (Learn more about nuun below)
Refuel with food: Carbs & protein, the perfect combination. As stated in our 'What To Eat After a Run' blog, most sports dietitians would agree that a 3:1 or 4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ration is ideal for speeding up recovery. If you can't get your hands on a meal, recovery bars can hold you over for a little while.
You may also like: Where to Eat After Your Run or Workout
Icing pain areas: Icing can reduce pain and inflammation if done correctly. After your run or workout, ice your troubled area for about 10-15 minutes. Avoid putting ice directly on the skin by using a bag or cloth. Be sure not to ice too long because that can have negative effects on the body.
Rest: Yes, good old-fashioned rest is key. Lay in bed, watch Netflix on your couch or head to a coffee shop to chat with friends. Whatever you do, take time to relax your muscles and bones so they can repair themselves in time for your next sweaty session.
If you've tried all of the options above but would like to take your recovery process even further, check out the list of product recommendations below.
The GRID Foam Roller helps athletes self-massage tight muscles and knots that may hinder performance (and cause lots of pain). If you're new to foam rolling, start with our Complete Guide To Foam Rolling and check out Trigger Point's video library to learn more about targeting specific areas like your quads, calves, and/or hamstrings.
According to CEP, the Run Socks 2.0 are equipped with metatarsal compression for excellent support and unmatched comfort. They reduces vibrations while increasing coordination. This stabilizes muscles, joints and, together with the increased blood flow, helps prevent injuries. While the jury is still out on the science behind compression, I've tried CEP compression and found them to work great during and after physical activity.
Yoga straps help you make the most of your stretching, especially if you have really tight spots that prevent you from going deep. The strap allows you to increase flexibility and can be used for better balance during your yoga or stretching poses.
Check out this video to learn how to use the yoga strap.
nuun active hydration is an electrolyte enhanced drink tablet packed with light flavor and made from clean ingredients. The electrolytes found in nuun (sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium) will help alleviate cramps, help muscles function, communicate and burn energy efficiently. Try nuun after a tough workout to replenish.
If you want to take self-massage to the next level, the Addaday Pro Massage Roller is the way to go. It offers a pinpoint precision gear that can target hard to reach areas such as the achillies, shin, shoulders, and forearm.
This product is a great alternative to the standard foam roller because it can go a little deeper to break up muscle tightness.
Do you have a recovery product or tip that you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments below.
Takia McClendon is the co-founder of City Fit Girls. She's a shoe expert and manager at a running store in Philadelphia and a Certified Level 1 USATF Coach. Follow her online at @takiamcclendon.
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