Exercising on a regular basis can result in tight muscles. The sooner you reduce post-workout soreness, aches and pains, the faster you can get back to improving your fitness level.
Here are some proven methods to help you get back into your training routine more quickly:
Effective Cool-Down Routine
A post-workout routine that involves stretching can be very beneficial, both physically and mentally. We tend to spend our days rushing directly from one commitment to the next without spending any time relaxing and appreciating the present moment. Stretching and meditating after a workout have been linked to reduced post-workout soreness and overall stress. Skipping this important step because you’re pressed for time may leave you feeling stiff, sore and stressed out for a few days—especially if your workout was intense and included resistance-based training.
Right after your workout is done is a good time to start working on improving your flexibility, because your body is warm and your muscles are relaxed. This allows you to more easily stretch your muscles to a point that they will improve. Post-workout is also a great time to practice meditating, as your body is tired and you may find it easier to relax and breathe. Performing a good cool-down routine can help your body to recover from any level of workout.
Stretching alone is not always enough to release muscle tightness, and that’s why athletes often rely on massage therapy to help release trigger points in the muscles. When you eliminate knots and stress points in the muscles, it helps to re-establish proper movement patterns and pain-free movement. This may ultimately reduce post-workout soreness and enhance performance.
Foam rollers have become popular over the past few years because they can assist in breaking up these muscle knots, resuming normal blood flow and function to the muscle without costly trips to a masseuse. Having the ability to control the pressure and position of the foam roller is perfect for targeted muscle relief.
Many athletes use ice or take a cold shower after a workout to help with the healing process. Using ice post-workout is effective for helping with the rejuvenation of muscles and tendons that have been worked during the session. You can apply ice to a specific area of your body that needs relief. Or if you have access to a plunge pool, your whole body can benefit from a cold soak.
It feels great to get into a sauna or steam room after an intense exercise session, but the thermic stress that you put on your body is not necessarily good for you. During your workout your body has to work overtime to keep you cool, and adding in extra heat post-workout may stress out your body—especially your immune system. A few days after an intense session is a good time to get in the sauna or take a hot soak in the tub, as the heat can promote increased circulation and sooth sore muscles, especially if you add in Epsom salts.
Down time in your exercise regimen can negatively impact your weight loss or performance goals. Using several techniques to keep your body in motion is, in my opinion, well worth the effort. The more consistent you can be with your routine the better your overall results will be.
By Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA – Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness
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