Rest and recovery are an essential part of any workout routine. Unfortunately, most people don’t have an after-exercise recovery plan. Your after-exercise recovery routine has a big impact on your fitness gains and sports performance and allows you to train much more effectively.

Why Recovery After Exercise Is Important

Recovery after exercise is essential to muscle and tissue repair and strength building. This is even more critical after a heavy weight training session. A muscle needs anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild, in older individuals sometimes 72 hours is even better.  Exercising again too soon simply leads to tissue breakdown instead of building. For weight training routines, never work the same muscles groups two days in a row.


The following are some of the most commonly recommended by the experts.


1. Drink Lots of Water

You lose a lot of fluid during exercise and ideally, you should be replacing it during exercise, but filling up after exercise is an easy way to boost your recovery. Water supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body and having plenty of water will improve every bodily function. Adequate fluid replacement is even more important for endurance athletes who lose large amounts of water during hours of sweating. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.

2. Eat Healthy Recovery Foods

After depleting your energy stores with exercise, you need to refuel if you expect your body to recover, repair tissues, get stronger and be ready for the next challenge. This is even more important if you are performing endurance exercise day after day or trying to build muscle. Ideally, you should try to eat protein within 30 minutes of the end of your workout. Make sure you include some high-quality protein and complex carbohydrate in your meal about 2 hours post-workout. Consider adding some natural anti-inflammatories to your diet, including tart cherry juice and the spices turmeric and ginger.  Inflammation is your body’s natural reaction to exercise, quickly reducing that inflammation aids in recovery.

3. Perform Active Recovery

Easy, gentle movement improves circulation which helps promote nutrient and waste product transport throughout the body. This approach helps the muscles repair and refuel faster. This includes slower paced movements like light jogging or walking and can include dynamic stretching during your walk.


4. Stretch It Out

Static Stretching for about 15-20 minutes after a workout is a simple way to help your muscles recover.  Static Stretching is a held position stretch for 20 or more seconds. Static stretching is the most common form of stretching and is considered safe and effective for improving overall flexibility

5. Get a Massage

Massage feels good and improves circulation while allowing you to fully relax. A good sports massage works on moving the blood from the extremities towards the core. This can be with a professional masseuse or a massage chair like the Inada DreamWave that is customized to your body. The DreamWave firmly squeezes the feet, calves, arms & shoulders to actively pump the blood back to the core.

6. Foam Rolling & Massage Sticks

Foam rolling and massage sticks are great for easing tight muscles.  Self-Myofascial Release (SMR) with a foam roller, foam ball, or massage sticks allows you to isolate those problem areas in your muscles to unknot those difficult tight spots. Releasing the fascia that surrounds our muscles from the muscle cells lets it operate more smoothly and efficiently. Foam Rollers use your body weight to get the deeper tissue knots more acutely.  Massage sticks allow you to control the application of pressure on your muscles.

7. Vibration Training

The concept of vibration training, also called whole body vibration, is not new, but interest into its application for exercise and sports performance is higher than ever. The leaders in athletic development, as well as many elite, professional and recreational athletes, are using vibration training with tremendous success.

Vibration training as used for recovery of fitness activities includes laying body parts on a vibration platform for 30 to 45 second intervals. Generally, the major benefit involves improved blood and lymphatic circulation, and therefore quicker removal of the waste products of exercise from the system resulting in less post-workout soreness.


8. Get More Sleep

While you sleep, amazing things are taking place in your body. Optimal sleep is essential for anyone who exercises regularly. During sleep, your body produces Growth Hormone (GH) which is largely responsible for tissue growth and repair.  Target 7 ½ to 8 hours of sleep per night, some individuals may need up to 9 hours.

9. Yoga

The gentle stretching and mind-body focus of yoga combines several ideas into one great day-after-work out activity. There are several disciplines within the concept of yoga. Try several styles until you find the one that matches your body and personality.

10. Listen to Your Body for a Faster Recovery

The most important thing you can do to recovery quickly is to listen to your body. If you are feeling tired, sore or notice decreased performance you may need more recovery time or a break from training altogether. If you are feeling strong the day after a hard workout, you don’t have to force yourself to go slow. If you pay attention, in most cases, your body will let you know what it needs, when it needs it.