Here’s something you probably hate to think too much about: Your workouts are actually damaging your muscles. Sorry, but it’s true. But, all those tiny little tears that your exercises inflict on your muscles act as stimuli to trigger some pretty awesome adaptations. In fact, those adaptations are exactly what you’re looking for when you exercise. In response to that damage, your body figures that it must make those muscles bigger, faster, and stronger to prevent further problems in the future.
In light of that, then, we need to consider a key truth regarding exercise. All those positive adaptations do not actually happen when you’re exercising. They happen after, during periods of rest. So, then, your recovery is key. Not only can proper recovery make all the difference when it comes to making sure that your body can properly adapt, it will help to lower your overall risk of injury. So, to help you maximize the benefits of these recovery periods, here are five key recovery strategies to work into your routine.
Sleep – Sure, this might seem obvious but adequate sleep often gets ignored. And, even on days that you’re not working out, you’re still active in some way. Sleep, then, is the most thorough rest and recovery that your body is going to get. Inadequate sleep, on the other hand, has been linked with – not just reduced athletic performance – but obesity and a host of other problems.
BCAAs – More clinically called Branched Chain Amino Acids, BCAAs are a specific group of amino acids that are metabolized in the muscles – instead of the liver like other amino acids. These amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine, have been shown in numerous studies to help support muscle growth, adaptation, and recovery between workouts. A BCAA supplement like Gnarly BCAAs is a convenient way to make sure that you’re getting the perfect amount of these amino acids in the right proportions to help with recovery.
Water – You know it is important, but do you realize just how much of a difference it can make in your recovery? Exercising while dehydrated can increase the amount of damage done to your muscles while reducing your body’s ability to recover properly. Water will also help to flush any waste products from your system that might be getting in the way of a complete recovery.
Tart Cherry Juice – Here’s one you might not have heard before. A 2010 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that drinking tart cherry juice regularly could help to speed recovery, while reducing soreness and fatigue during the actual workout. The only downside is that you need to drink a pretty large amount of the tart cherry juice which is… well, tart. In the study, the subjects drank 24oz of the juice every day for seven days leading up to a race. After the event, their recovery and soreness was monitored.
Foam Rolling – Part of the reason for post-exercise soreness is that the connective tissue running throughout your body can become knotting up. Foam rolling essentially mashes those knots smooth. And it can be as painful as it sounds. But it works. Regular foam rolling – which can be worked into your cool down routine – can reduce soreness and speed up recovery from even the most strenuous workouts.
Photo by Savannah Cummins