Workouts are hard. They stress your joints and damage your muscle tissue. Tiny micro tears in the muscles are what cause pain the day after your workout, and can grow worse the second day, leaving you feeling like you just want to lie on the couch and not move. The recovery process is just as important as the workout as your body will regenerate and adapt to the stress through proper rest and nutrition. If you constantly work and do not allow yourself to rest, overtraining will occur. This can result in increased stress, sleeplessness, decreased performance and you will not acheive results. But since this post workout discomfort doesn’t magically disappear, here are some tips for easing muscle tension and minimizing your muscles soreness.
Frequently neglected, this part of your workout is critical for promoting recovery and decreasing muscle stiffness. After a workout, muscles will tense up and become sore. Perform these exercises right after your workout when your muscles are at their warmest and most limber. Hold each stretch for a count of 30 seconds, pushing yourself until you feel a good pull in your muscle without any significant amount of pain.
Performing light activity, such as walking or light active exercises like body squat and toe touches can help to increase circulation and bring nutrients to the muscle tissue thereby promoting recovery.
Not only is sleep important for your mental functioning, but it also provides your muscles with much-needed rest and regeneration time. Missing out on sleep not only reduces your rate of recovery, it also increases stress levels in your body (due to an increased release of cortisol), which will make your muscles tight. Try to get least seven hours of sleep every night, and if your schedule allows it, take a 20-minute power nap when you can.
A massage goes a long way when it comes to relaxing your muscles; it is best to get one on your rest day after a week of hard training. A deep tissue massage reaches muscle fibers that you aren’t able to target with everyday methods like stretching, and will be uncomfortable while you are on the table, but feels great afterwards. Try a Shiatsu massage or relaxation massage if you are uncomfortable with a lot of pressure.
Used for self myofascial release, this technique is done with a cylindrical roll that will aid in improving soft tissue extensibility, and taking away those knots that are a nagging pain.
Schedule rest into your program
You can workout as frequently and as hard as you want but you will not see the results you want if you do not rest properly. When deciding on a program, plan at least one day a week for total rest. Plan to take one week every twelve and cut your volume in half. This will allow for you to maintain your habits of scheduling your workouts while not stressing your muscles and joints.
Take a Steam
This one has always been my favorite. Personally, there is no better way to end a workout than to take a 10 minute steam. Close your eyes, breathe deep and stretch your muscles for a few minutes. It is a great way to distress after a hard workout both physically and psychologically.
Remember, workouts are damaging. Proper rest and nutrition are essential for recovery. When you schedule in rest time, you allow your body to recouperate. As your workouts increase in intensity, your body will be able to handle the stress allowing you to acheive your results.