How to Allow Your Muscles to Heal After Exercise

  • 12 Aug - 18 Aug, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly

You must exert more physical effort if you want to get stronger, faster, and more fit. But you also need to take a break.

The body is stressed by all workouts, especially challenging ones. When you exercise, you fatiguing, or wear down, different muscles, which results in tiny muscle cell damage. Inflammation really rises, according to Chris Kolba, PhD, a physical therapist at the Columbus-based Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre, as a result of changes in hormone and enzyme levels. Your body will benefit greatly from the improvements you're making. They cause a body to gain muscle, burn fat, have greater insulin sensitivity, have less inflammation, have better cardiovascular health, and generally be healthier. But before you start stressing your body, give it some time to go through those positive changes.

Rest and Recovery Let Your Muscles Heal and Make You Stronger

Your body's immune system is triggered to repair the damage exercise produces. And as your body's tissues heal, including your heart and lungs as well as your muscles and bones, they get a little bit fitter. You won't sustain as much harm the following time you do the same exercise if you do it in this manner.

There’s More Than 1 Way to Let Your Muscles Recover

Workout recovery doesn’t just mean lying on the couch and kicking up your feet. The best post-workout recovery means using a variety of strategies to help your muscles heal. Here are some of those strategies:

Passive Recovery: A complete cessation from exercise, passive recovery is synonymous with complete rest. (Okay – you can lie on the couch and kick up your feet for this one!) How much passive recovery your body needs depends on multiple factors, including your current fitness level and how intense your workouts are.

Active Recovery: Active recovery means low-intensity, generally low-impact exercise that promotes blood flow and tissue repair without further stressing the body, Rivadeneyra says. “If you’re feeling fatigued from strength training, engage in a lower intensity cardiovascular bike ride or walk, which enables your body to circulate waste products caused by the rigorous activity.

Cross-Training: Cross-training lets you get the most bang for your workout buck. It means changing up the activity you do from workout to workout, so you are fatiguing different muscles during different workouts, Rivadeneyra says. For example, if you generally spend your workouts running, strength training, or boxing (even if performed at a high intensity) will stress your body in different ways. By allowing certain muscle groups to repair while others work, cross-training helps promote overall muscle health while minimizing the amount of passive and active recovery days needed.

Myofascial Release: Myofascial release (sometimes called soft tissue therapy) includes massage and foam rolling. Performed immediately before and after exercise, it may help decrease feelings of delayed onset muscle soreness while speeding muscle recovery. Myofascial release can be a part of passive and active recovery days as well as cross-training workouts.

Nutritional Recovery: The foods you eat provide your body with the building blocks needed to repair muscles and promote recovery, Kolba says. A whole-foods-based diet rich in antioxidants, whole carbohydrates, and lean protein can help trigger the right changes in your body between workouts, so your system is in better shape when it comes time for the next workout.

Sleep: “This is a large part of the recovery equation,” Rivadeneyra says. During sleep, the body produces the majority of its growth factors and hormones that aid in daily muscle repair and recovery. Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night allows those growth factors to do their work, he says. Avoid screen time (TV, phones) and alcohol before bed and keep the room dark to help ensure quality sleep.