Now that the gyms are open again, millions of Brits have hit the workouts hard, in an attempt to shake off that lockdown weight gain. The fact that lockdown has ended just in time for Spring and Summer, when many of us feel the pressure to be slimmer anyway, means that people are exercising harder than ever, and that means injuries are inevitable.
When I started weight training, back in 2017, the exercise itself was fun and fulfilling, but the days of DOMS in my thighs (why is it that walking UP stairs isn’t so bad, but walking DOWN the stairs feels like torture?!) were hellish! With this in mind, I thought I’d share a few tips for making sure you look after your body properly with your post-workout recovery:
Hit The Showers
Having a post-workout shower is important for getting yourself clean, but the water can actually help your muscles too. Alternating between blasts of hot and cold water, known as a contrast shower, can help improve recovery and alleviate muscle soreness. Even better is if you’re lucky enough to have steam showers at your gym, as using steam is like putting a warm blanket over your aching muscles!
Most people remember to take water with them to the gym and to drink while they’re working out, but drinking plenty during your post-workout recovery is super important too. Experts generally agree that, for every 10 to 20 minutes of exercise, you should drink at least 260ml of water, followed by another 230ml no more than half an hour after you’ve stopped to keep your muscles healthy. If you can add some electrolytes to your water, that’s even better.
Most people will strecth before they start their workut to help avoid injury, but they don’t always stretch again at the end, which is a common mistake. When you stretch your muscles after a workout, you’re helping to give your body a jump-start on recovery, while also releasing stress and tension, and boosting the flexibility of your joints.
Whether you’re following a strict diet or not, one of the most important ways to help your body to recover from exercise is to make sure you have plenty of protein. This can come in the form of a protein shake, eggs, steak or even seitan for the vegans – as long as it’s protein-rich, it’s what you need to help your muscles to rebuild and really benefit from all the exercise you’re doing.
Rest…But Still Move!
I know how tempting it is to take the “rest” part of “rest day” a little too literally. You’ve worked out hard all week and come your rest day, you want to remain as sedentary as possible. Believe it or not, failing to do ANYTHING on a rest day can actually do more harm than good. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting a full-on HIIT routine or anything – a gentle walk, some yoga or even just playing Mario and Sonic at the Olympics on your games console – a bit of movement will prevent your muscles from seizing up, which will make it easier to go back to full activity on your workout days.