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How to Recover After Exercise

Sore muscles need TLC after an intense workout.

Sore muscles need TLC after an intense workout.

By Elmer Smith

A neighborhood boot camp sounded like a grand idea. After all, your doctor advised you to exercise more, and that boot camp instructor assured you the routines were for all levels, even a beginner like you.

But the morning after the first class, it hurts to get out of bed. Every muscle aches.
You might feel like quitting. Don’t do it. Instead, learn how to soothe those aching muscles so that you can make it to the next class. Here are some of our favorite recovery methods to try.

Take a candlelit bath
As you’re running the water, pour in one or two cups of Epsom salt. It’s an oldie-but-goodie remedy often used for postexercise soreness, arthritis, swollen feet and more. Find it at your local pharmacy and grocery store for just a few dollars.

Give yourself a massage
You’ve probably seen log-shaped foam rollers at the gym and ignored them. But after your next workout, pick one up. Much like a massage, foam rollers aid in breaking up the tightness or knots that form in heavily stressed muscles. What experts call “self-myofascial release” works by allowing the exerciser to apply direct pressure to sore points.

Try supplements
Most experts will tell you that a well-balanced diet and a daily multivitamin are all you need. But older athletes’ bodies are less efficient in using amino acids for muscle protein synthesis. Whey protein provides an excellent source of the amino acids, helpful for rebuilding muscle tissue.

Eat the right foods
Many nutritionists and trainers suggest that a combination of complex carbs and protein within an hour or two of heavy exercise are important to the recovery process. Support for such nutrient timing is not definitive.

Finally … restore with rest
Recovery is night work. Numerous studies, including one by the Washington University School of Medicine, have shown that human growth hormone restoration begins within the first two hours of sleep. Some fitness experts even advise that an afternoon nap after a heavy morning workout can jump-start the recovery process.

At the very least, just remember three Rs: rest, refuel and rehydrate.

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