As you exercise, your heart rate increases, your muscles stretch and strain, your endorphin levels spike -- and it all feels amazing. But while workouts are great stress relief for the mind, exercise does put stress on the body. By tiring out your body during a tough workout, you’re causing microscopic damage to your muscle cells, increasing inflammation and altering your hormone levels.
This is why your body needs “muscle recovery,” aka rest, after an intense workout.
By giving yourself proper workout recovery, your body can transition from stress mode to repair mode. As your body rests, the microscopic muscle damage done by your workouts is repaired, leaving behind stronger muscles, bones, and lungs. To get the most out of your muscle recovery, you need to give the body the tools and support it needs to heal. Wondering what helps muscle recovery? From eating healthy snacks to using CBD tinctures and balms, we’ve put together our best ten tips for muscle recovery below.
#1 Roll It Out
When it comes to recovering from a tough workout, increasing blood flow helps your muscles heal. Foam rolling alleviates your tight spots, stretching and increasing circulation in the areas of discomfort. Plus, it feels really good.
#2 Snack Attack
As your body works out, it uses up energy stored from the food you eat. Give your body a post-workout snack to refuel for recovery. According to The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the ideal ratio for a post-workout snack is 2:1 carbs to protein.
Protein shake and a banana – Protein shakes are a great recovery drink option formulated to support your body after a workout. But when you’re choosing protein shakes, double-check the sugar content on the label. Your body needs sustainable energy after exercise, and processed sugar might cause further stress and inflammation. Instead, reach for a source of vitamins and natural sugars, like a banana.
- Whole wheat pita and hummus – Hummus is packed with protein and vitamins to nourish the body and promote healthy healing. Dip whole wheat pita bread into your hummus for a satisfying post-workout snack.
- Cottage cheese or yogurt and fruit – Yogurt and cottage cheese are both incredibly rich in protein. Pair with your favorite fruit like blueberries, pineapple or sliced bananas for a sweet post-workout reward.
#3 Healing Sleep
Sleep is the body’s natural reset mechanism. It should be no surprise that it’s one of the best ways to help your body recover after a workout.
As the body sleeps, its cell repair processes are at their most active state. Get a good night’s sleep after a workout and you’ll be amazed at the recovery process. If you have trouble drifting off, consider these tips to ensure you’re getting a restful night of exercise recovery:
- Stick to a bedtime schedule – A healthy sleep routine is muscle recovery’s best friend. By going to bed and waking up at the same time, you can train your body to fall asleep faster and enjoy a longer night of rest.
Eliminate caffeine after 2 p.m. – While you may not be feeling the effects of your afternoon java jolt, your body is still processing that caffeine. This makes it more difficult for your mind to shut down and drift off. Switch to herbal teas or water after 2 p.m.
- Avoid exercising four hours before your bedtime – Your workout can definitely help you sleep better, but timing is vital in that equation. Your body needs time to come out of the workout-induced stress mode so you can relax and fall asleep.
- Limit your screen time – According to studies on blue light’s effect on the brain, blue light hinders melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that tells your body to go to sleep. The blue light emitted by your tablet, phone and TV keeps your body from producing this important hormone when it’s time to go to bed. Turn off your devices an hour or two before it’s time to sleep.
#4 Stretch It Out
Stretching is another way to increase blood flow to your muscles and speed up recovery time. It can even diminish muscle soreness. Try a few simple, relaxing stretches to soothe your muscles and help your body recover for your next workout.
#5 CBD Relief
After a good workout, your body might experience sore muscles or aches. These feelings of discomfort can impact your recovery time --and not for the better. Soothing muscle soreness will help the entire body heal faster, thus allowing you to regain your muscle strength quicker. CBD balm is amongst one of the best natural remedies for sore muscles and exercise recovery.
Recovery Tip: During an intense workout, you push your body to new limits. And you know that what you put in your body has an impact on your physical performance. So when it comes to CBD, you want to make sure you’re using a trustworthy product. When choosing CBD for muscle recovery, look for these traits on the label of given products:
- Organic hemp – Choose a CBD product that’s made from organic hemp. Organic hemp is grown without fertilizers or pesticides, meaning it offers the maximum benefits.
- Third-Party testing – The FDA does not regulate or monitor CBD items the way it regulates the food and beverage industry. That’s why you should look for CBD companies that have their products tested for label accuracy by a third-party laboratory.
Plant People’s Relief+Cooling Body Cream is specifically formulated to give your muscles a helping hand in their recovery. Made from organic hemp, every Plant People CBD product is tested by a third-party laboratory for quality and label accuracy. Plant People’s Relief+Cooling Body Cream is formulated with the highest quality CBD and active botanicals—like turmeric root extract and arnica flower extract—to help you on your road to muscle recovery.
#6 Drink A Glass of Tart Cherry Juice
If you love a mix of sour and sweet and want to recover after a workout, pour yourself a glass of tart cherry juice. A 2010 study showed that athletes who drank tart cherry juice before and after running a marathon showed significantly less muscle damage, loss of strength, and even soreness than athletes given a placebo.
Scientists believe it’s because of the juice’s high polyphenol levels—the levels of plant-based micronutrients like antioxidants—helped lessen the damage that exercise naturally causes.
Recovery Tip: If the flavor of tart cherry juice is a bit too heavy, try watering it down and adding ice and a squeeze of lime for a delicious nutrient-packed muscle recovery drink.
#7 Apply Ice and Heat
Another way to soothe muscle soreness is with an ice pack and a heating pad. After a hard workout, your muscles become inflamed and gain micro muscle tears that will eventually heal into stronger muscles and result in muscle growth. But during these processes, your muscle cells release waste products and a build-up of lactic acid occurs. Those waste products can hinder the healing process, but icing and applying heat can help lactic acid build up.
By applying ice for ten minutes, you are slowing blood flow to reduce inflammation and help soreness. By switching to heat for ten minutes, you will increase the blood flow to help flush out the cell waste and encourage faster delivery of vitamins, nutrients, and oxygen.
Should you feel your muscle going numb or spasming, give the icing a rest and allow the blood flow to stabilize.
#8 Take a Break from Your Workouts
Just like you need to take a break from work and other stressors, your body needs its downtime, too. Depending on your workout routine and exercise performance, consider alternating days or taking a couple rest days throughout the week to help with muscle repair. Even professional athletes typically devote a single day in their week to refrain from exercise.
#9 Allow Your Muscles to Relax
One of the most important factors in muscle recovery is relaxation. Why? Because your body reacts to mental stress in the same way it reacts to physical stress. And stress is the enemy of muscle recovery. So spend your recovery time relaxing from head to toe. Try these activities to help muscle recovery after workouts:
- Book a massage – Massages are a phenomenal way to relax the mind and help the body recover. A sports massage can help circulation and ease major knots you may have accumulated during your workout. Consider adding CBD oil to your massage for enhanced relaxation.
Do a yin yoga practice – Combine the benefits of stretching with the relaxing effects of mindfulness in a gentle yoga practice.
- Take a walk in nature – Your recovery time doesn’t mean you have to sit still. Try taking a walk or going on an easy hike. Go out and enjoy the many health benefits of being in nature!
- Whatever is most relaxing to you – This might be hanging out with your dog at an outdoor coffee shop, working on a soothing hobby, or even just spending time with friends. Let your body settle.
As you workout, you use up a ton of your body’s water supply. Thus, proper hydration is key to repairing the body and promoting muscle recovery. And that means more than the daily recommended 64 ounces a day. Since your body burns through water during your workouts, be sure to compensate by drinking plenty of water before you start exercising.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the feeling of being “thirsty” means your body is already dehydrated. If you feel thirsty after a workout, be sure to take a rest and drink plenty of water to keep your body’s recovery systems at their best.
Recovery Tip: While not an equal substitute for water, electrolyte-rich food or drinks can enhance your recovery routine. Electrolytes help you absorb water and restore essential salts and vitamins in your body. Try squeezing lemon juice or stirring in some coconut water to create a hydrating and electrolyte-replenishing cocktail.
Plant People: Smart Muscle Recovery for Better Health
Your workouts are an amazing way to release endorphins, support your long-term health and strengthen your body. But what you do after you workout is just as important as the workout itself. Muscle recovery is what allows your body to rest, restore itself, and benefit from exercise. By supporting your recovery phase with these muscle recovery tips, you can get even more out of your workouts.
Here at Plant People, we’re dedicated to your wellness and vitality. Our full spectrum hemp and herbal supplements are specifically formulated to promote relaxation, post-exercise anti-inflammation and reduced soreness. We believe in the power of plants—to support your body both physically and internally, seek out natural ingredients. Over time, you’ll find a muscle recovery routine that’s perfect for your lifestyle.
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