Arguably the worst part about exercising is the muscle soreness and fatigue that you’ll feel the next day. While most of the soreness is minor and will soon go away, there are times when you’ll find it hard to get out of bed because of the pain. If you want to forget about times like that, there are some methods you can use, but first, there are some things you need to know about muscle recovery.
Muscle recovery is the body's ability to recover from the workouts we perform at the gym, outdoors or at home. The pace of our recovery influences how much muscle and body strength we’ll be able to gain, which is why this process is so important and crucial in our development as fit individuals or athletes.
The importance of muscle recovery
Muscle recovery is highly important, because it allows the nervous system to recover after the stress and the intense work that follows each training session. If you don’t get the desired results after exhausting workouts, then it may be the case to think about the amount of recovery you’re giving to your body while sleeping, and the length of the breaks you take while you train, so the body is able to prepare for the next physical challenge.
What do we understand by muscle recovery?
Some might think that muscle recovery means sleeping at night, but it is actually more than that:
- a brief moment of rest during the day (30 minutes)
- at least one day off from the gym - a day break each week
- 1-2 minutes break during the evening training
- sleep during the night (this is one of the most important forms of recovery!)
- any activity carried out by individuals in a relaxed form
How much time should we allocate for muscle recovery?
The time we need for our muscles to recover completely depends on a few main factors:
- intensity of training or exercise intensity
- the training frequency and duration – more training means more recovery time
- larger muscles require more recovery time – the larger muscle groups lift more weight to get the appropriate intensity that a smaller group does. There’s going to be more muscles destroyed and it’s going to take time to replace them.
- the psychological stress – what troubles you mind affects how much energy you put into training. If you are effected this way, you will need more recovery time
- nutrition – if you break down the muscles, you will have to get the nutrients to rebuild those muscles
Muscle recovery is a process that can be divided into 3 phases:
- 30-90 seconds of recovery between sets during training
- 2 to 4 minutes of recovery immediately after training at the gym/outdoors/at home
- 48 to 72 hours of recovery between training separate muscle groups within a workout session
Prevention is always better that cure. It takes less effort to prevent something than to cure it, so keep in mind the things we talked about muscle recovery.
However, when you don’t give your muscles enough time to recover and they feel sore, there are four good ways to get rid of muscle soreness fast and you can use one, two or all of them in helping you get over the pain quickly and easily.
- Light Exercise
It may seem rather counter-intuitive that working out more will take away the pain, but in truth warming up the muscles will actually provide some real relief. Go for a brisk walk or light jog that will help the blood to circulate and heal the muscle tissues. After several minutes you should be feeling better.
- Use a Foam Roller
A stiff cylinder of foam can help you massage the pain right out of your muscles. You can use the roller both before and after your workouts to loosen up the muscles. The roller itself works on the fascia tissue that basically connects your entire body so that when it is loose, your muscles can relax as well.
- Add More Protein
The muscles use protein to rebuild after a workout, so adding more to your diet will actually reduce the muscle soreness you feel the next day. Lean meats are generally the best source of protein, but you can also eat beans or legumes as well as take a protein supplement. Be sure that your meal after working out contains lots of proteins.
- Apply Ice
Although heat will bring some relief, you generally do not want to apply it immediately as it will only cause the muscles to swell up even more. Instead, you’ll want to apply ice to the affected muscles for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Keep in mind to give your muscles enough time to recover after each training session – especially when you go through an intense one. Also, remember the methods of getting rid of muscle soreness next time you get out of bed with sore muscle. Any one of these methods will get you rid of the pain quickly. Just be sure to take it easy at first so that you don’t pull a muscle or create more damage in the process.