Speeding up recovery is a game changer.
If you’ve managed to stick to your New Year’s resolutions thus far (now Feb 1st as I begin this), great work! You’ve beat the odds.
If hitting the gym was one of your goals, then chances are you’ve felt a bit of soreness over the past few weeks. Rest assured, it’s natural and you didn’t’ mess up. This doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it though.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is felt the day after a solid workout, and especially the second day. The reason for this is simple…you broke down your muscle fibers and now it hurts.
The usual recommendations you’d get from most sites would be:
- Stretching and foam rolling: Gentle stretching and foam rolling can help to improve circulation and reduce muscle tightness, which can relieve pain and soreness.
- Hydration: Staying hydrated can help to reduce inflammation and support the healing of damaged muscle fibers.
- Ice and heat therapy: Applying ice or heat to the affected muscles can help to reduce pain and swelling. Ice is usually recommended in the first 48 to 72 hours after exercise, while heat can be applied later to help with stiffness and tightness.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Rest and recovery: Allowing adequate time for rest and recovery is essential for the repair of damaged muscle fibers. This includes getting enough sleep, taking breaks from intense physical activity, and allowing enough time between workouts to avoid overtraining.
These are all super helpful to aid in your recovery, but there’s one element to recovery that often gets overlooked…active recovery.
What is Active Recovery
Simply put, active recovery is the act of working out your sore muscles again in the day or two that follow a big workout, only with a lot lighter weight and a lot less intensity.
Examples of Active Recovery
- Gentle cycling: Cycling at a low intensity on a stationary bike can help to increase blood flow to the affected muscles, reduce pain and stiffness, and speed up the recovery process.
- Swimming: Swimming is a low-impact form of exercise that can help to reduce pain and stiffness in sore muscles. The buoyancy of the water helps to reduce the stress on the muscles while still promoting movement and circulation.
- Yoga: Gentle yoga poses can help to increase flexibility and reduce muscle tightness, which can alleviate pain and discomfort associated with DOMS. Focus on slow, controlled movements and hold each pose for several deep breaths.
The idea behind this is to again flood the muscle cells with oxygenated blood packed with muscle building nutrients.
Yes, its going to hurt more at first, but yes, you will cut down your recovery time. I personally find that one day of active recovery, along with as many of the other recommendations that I can fit in, is all it takes for the next morning to be all but pain free.
If you decide to give this a try, remember to go slow and easy. You’re just looking for some blood flow to the sore spots and that’s it. If you’re concerned about it being more than this, then obviously consult your physician before moving forward with these.
Let me know how this helped (or didn’t) and I’m off my rocker for even thinking of this. 🙂