You put a lot of time and effort into your workouts. Make sure you take advantage of your hard work by focusing a little bit of time and effort into your recovery routine as well. Doing so will ensure your body will be in the best position it can be for your next workout.
There are many things that factor into healthy recovery from your fitness regimen. I chose a few of my favorites that make the biggest difference for me to recover quickly and minimize muscle soreness. My first suggestion is to employ cold water immersion or “cryotherapy”. In my case this has simply been taking an ice cold shower post workout. After reading numerous study’s, the practice seems to be widely accepted. In one study they “analyzed 17 trials involving over 360 people who either rested or immersed themselves in cold water after resistance training, cycling or running, researchers found the cold-water baths were much more effective in relieving sore muscles one to four days after exercise”. You can see the full article and study results from Peak Fitness here.
In my experience I have found that even if I turn the water cold for 2-3 minutes at the end of a hot shower it has reduced my muscle soreness after high intensity training, especially my crossfit workouts and full body cardio sessions. I despise being cold (and cold water is just about the worst), but once I started to see the benefits I forced myself to “grin and bear it”.
In speaking with Batchez co-founder, Ryan Campbell, I learned some interesting things about ice hockey conditioning and his favorite solution to combat muscle soreness. He has been an avid hockey player for well over 20 years, and still does on-ice workouts and drills a few days a week. A rigorous drill as short as 2-3 minutes, can be very intense anaerobically for the body when done on the ice surface. A 30-minute session done properly, can be a tremendous aerobic and anaerobic event for the body, which will often produce delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. Ryan swears by eating carbohydrates and protein as soon as he steps off the ice to help prevent DOMS. This approach is pretty common and widely accepted as a practice to start the whole muscle recovery process after a workout. Much of this has to do with replacing the glycogen stores that were used during exercise and giving the body the protein it needs for muscle repair. The recommended quantity can vary depending on the type of workout you have just completed, but in all cases getting the right nutrients as quickly as possible post workout (in the first 15 minutes if you can) is the goal. You can read this article from Peak Nutrition to get some good insights to help determine your needs. In the past, Ryan would typically eat a protein bar and or rich carbohydrate item, but since the launch of Batchez, Ryan has replaced these items with our protein rich snacks. He has found the Batchez snacks provide quicker recovery and less propensity to feel DOMS 24-48 hours later.
My third and perhaps most impactful suggestion is stretching. I just recently added significant amounts of stretching to my fitness routine because as I age, I am really feeling the effects of years of weight training on my range of motion and recovery time due to built up scar tissue. About one year ago I doubled the amount of time I spend stretching to include not just post workout stretching, but an extra 30 minutes at night. If you have done any research into the effects of stretching on muscle soreness and recovery, you will certainly get mixed reviews. Many profess that there is no clinical proof that stretching can alleviate muscle stiffness or soreness specifically. However, it is also accepted that stretching does help breakdown and remove lactic acid which can contribute to muscle soreness. Dynamic or active stretching that repeatedly put muscles through the expected ranges of motion, such as air squats, leg kicks, side lunges, arm circles, and so forth also have been shown to have greatly increase blood-flow and range of motion which I have found to be an effective aid in recovery for me.
I have found that spending 15 minutes of active stretching before a workout, 15-20 minutes of static stretching after a workout, and an additional 30 minutes of stretching at night (that are all focused on the muscle groups trained) has improved my mobility and recovery time to the point where things like handstands and overhead squats that I couldn’t do last year are now part of my workouts on a regular basis.
So don’t let muscle soreness and overall recovery time keep you from reaching your fitness goals. There is a lot of research you can do on recovery techniques to find ones that work for you and lots of different options to employ them. For the Batchez boys, we find the 3 above to be the most effective ones to reach our goals