The key to taking your fitness to the next level is speeding up your muscle recovery time. If you cut down on how sore you feel between resistance training sessions (pilates, yoga, weights, etc...), you can do more and in turn feel more energized and get stronger. Here are a few tips I share with clients all the time:
1) HYDRATE: if you’re not hydrated properly, your muscles will become stiff and prone to injury. Drink more than 8 glasses/day, make sure you're drinking throughout the day - especially before, during, and after your workout. Another tip - drink a tall glass of water right when you get up in the morning, especially if you drink caffeine. You are dehydrated when you wake up, racing for your morning coffee right away only further dehydrates you.
2) EPSOM SALTS: epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate: Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant, and as a salt they help reduce tissue swelling. Dissolve one or two cups of Epsom salts into warm bath water and soak for 15 minutes or until the water has cooled. Or if it's too hot for a bath, make a compress. Pour 8 oz. of water into a bowl. Stir in 2 tbsp. Epsom salts until all the salts are dissolved. Soak a washcloth in the Epsom salts and water solution. Remove the washcloth from the water and squeeze out the excess water. The cloth should be damp, but not dripping. Lay the cloth over the area you want to treat. Allow it to remain in place for 20 minutes. Rewet the cloth in the Epsom salts solution if it begins to dry out. The skin will absorb the Epsom salts.
3) DRINK TART CHERRY JUICE: studies suggest tart cherries may be more effective than aspirin at relieving pain and reducing inflammation, thanks to the antioxidant anthocyanins, which can help minimize swelling in sore muscles. Drink about an ounce of cherry concentrate right before your workout – or, if cherries aren’t your thing, enjoy other foods that are rich in antioxidants like quinoa, kale and blueberries.
4) HEAT: heat increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to sore muscles while suppressing the pain signals being sent to your brain. Apply some form of heat – hot water bottle, heating pad, or a hot towel – to sore areas.
5) ICE: with pain comes inflammation – and ice is the best natural remedy. It also acts as an anesthetic, essentially numbing the effected area and giving you a muscle recovery breather.
6) STRETCH: here’s the thing about muscle pain: It limits your movement, which ironically makes the pain even worse. Make sure to get your stretch on as often as possible – especially after sitting for extended periods of time or before an intense workout. Once you’ve incorporated more stretching into your day, muscle recovery will be a snap.
7) EXERCISE: you know how they say the best thing you can do to cure a hangover is to drink what caused the hangover? This can work for sore muscles too. So try to switch up your routine, don't overdo it, but keep working out!
8) REST: especially after trying an intense workout you’re not used to, it’s best not to overdo it: If you sense an injury coming on, rest up before taking the plunge again. Listen to your body, and it’ll take care of the rest.
9) ACCUPUNCTURE: it can not only relieve pain and allow your muscles to relax, but it can speed up your healing time, increase blood flow, and boost your energy and ability to get good restful sleep.
10) SPORTS MASSAGE/BODYWORK: massage can suppress inflammation and actually enhance cell recovery.
What works best for you? Feel free to share your ideas here. Hope this helps!
See you at the studio!