By guest contributor Daniela Lawler, graduate in nutritional therapy from the College of Naturopathic Medicine.
It’s great to swap the couch for road running, or a trendy HIIT session at your local gym, but now your muscles are fatigued and you can barely walk down the stairs without wincing. Do not despair! By taking preventative measures this post work-out lull doesn’t have to be so bad. Those aches and pains you feel are actually muscular injuries caused by exercise.
When muscles are injured through exercise, satellite cells attempt to repair the damage, which, in turn, increases the muscle fibres, making muscles larger. So when it comes to recovery from exercise, think about the following strategies:
- Rest and relax: Long baths are great as the heat helps ease muscles and this can be enhanced with the use of Epsom salts.
- Stretch: Stretching after, and not before, your workout is best. Research shows stretching done pre-workout has no benefit and might do more harm than good.
- Don’t overdo it: Overdoing it in the gym and using heavier weights than you are ready for can cause injury and take you out of the gym for longer than you wish. Slow and steady wins the race. Have days off in between workouts to help you recover before your next session.
- Be consistent: As you begin to exercise regularly your muscles will grow more tolerant to the exercise so being consistent increases exercise gains and resilience in the long run.
- Sleep well: Sleep heals, so a restful night is essential. Some simple strategies for better sleep include going to bed before midnight, no screens for a couple of hours before bedtime and getting outside in the fresh air every day.
- Hydrate your body: Pure, fresh or filtered water is required for all metabolic processes in the body, so make sure you are having enough. Depending on your size, the time of year and the amount of exercise you do, 1-3 litres a day might cover your requirements. Add a pinch of good quality unprocessed salt to every additional litre of water you drink to replace trace minerals lost through sweating. Be mindful that drinking too much water is not advisable, so fi nd what works for you. If in doubt, ask a naturopath.
- Eat well: Nutrition Top nutrients to aid in your exercise regime are protein (amino acids), magnesium, B vitamins, antioxidants and essential minerals.