Cooling down and allowing your body to start the recovery process is just as important as the workout itself! If you want to be able to give 100% every workout, you need to allow your body to properly recover.
First, be sure you are stretching after your workout. Stretching and foam rolling can help improve your flexibility, ease muscle soreness and speed up the recovery process for your muscles. Take note here that it is NOT always beneficial to stretch.. There is a time and place for this, but listen to your body as to what it needs.
Just ask those who did a tiny amount of foam rolling on Monday. We all felt the difference. Especially for those who went for a 6am run on Tuesday. (Shout out to Hayley, Ly, Emma & my MVP Bel – you ladies rock!)
The next step is to get yourself hydrated. You lose a lot of water when sweating, so it’s time to replenish and hydrate after your workout. When considering what to re-hydrate with, stick to plain ol water. If you’re after an extra boost, try coconut water – it’s full of electrolytes without the added sugar of sports drinks.
After re-hydrating, have a post workout meal. A healthy snack or meal will replenish your body’s glycogen stores and start the repair process for your muscles. Protein shakes, a banana with peanut butter, or even a veggie omelette are great choices here. All of these will provide you with the nutrients and protein your body needs to kick off your recovery. And also prepare you for your next workout. For me, I usually have a protein shake on the way home as it’s the easiest option.
Lastly, if you have had a tough workout and want to get your muscles into recovery mode quick – jump into the shower and only run cold water. Then run it hot, then cold again, then hot again. Switch the taps about 10 times. This helps to get the blood pumping, and helps your lymphatic system get rid of any built up lactic acid. This is the stuff that ‘feel the burn’ is talking about. I actually enjoy doing this after a tough session. Don’t dismiss this one- you get used to the temperature changes pretty quick. And it’s better than hobbling around with everyone at work asking you why you’re moving like their grandma…
If you’ve left it too late and you’re already sore, then the best thing to do is to keep moving. If you sit for 8hrs or avoid walking up those stairs, your muscles will seize up and the pain will stay for longer. Avoid stretching for longer than 15secs on each muscle here, and opt to go for a nice long walk instead. You want to gently get the blood flowing, which will help to put that pain behind you.
Bonus tip: I have found that magnesium works an absolute treat for my recovery. I supplement with it before I go to sleep at night and also have magnesium spray that I will use after a shower. I love this stuff! When I use the magnesium spray, I can almost guarantee that I will not be sore the next day. This is great for me as I like to try new things (like run training for city to bay) and really push myself during my sessions at boxing and with my coaches.
Let me know in the comments below what helps you recover…