The human body is one of nature’s true marvels, with its ability to heal, grow and adapt. One of the most fascinating instances of this is the process of post-workout recovery. From the breakdown and synthesis of muscle proteins, to the flow of oxygen, to the bloodstream and brain, it’s a cycle that means not only regrowth, but increased strength and functionality.
Human behavior can positively or negatively impact this process. Since post-workout recovery carries such a weighty significance, it’s important to augment the natural recovery period through healthy lifestyle choices, holistic supplements and products and proper physical activity. Check out some of the pointers below for more information:
The impact of protein on both nutrition and exercise cannot be understated. As mentioned above, it’s a major player in the muscle building process, especially directly following a workout. Muscles are constantly breaking down, or catabolizing, proteins. In order to maintain muscle mass, the total anabolism, or synthesis, of protein should equal each other. To gain muscle, protein synthesis must exceed protein breakdown. Following exercise, protein anabolism and catabolism are both present in the body, but if nutrition is absent after exercise (i.e., if you don’t intake more protein), protein synthesis is dramatically reduced, even in the space of a few hours.
Following that, it stands that protein consumption immediately following a workout is of utmost importance in order to see results. There are a number of ways someone can incorporate protein into their routine—whether it’s a quick snack like Greek yogurt or grilled chicken, or a shake made with protein powder designed specifically to maximize anabolism post-workout.
A popular way to up the intake of critical vitamins and minerals is to take advantage of supplements. There are a plethora of helpful supplements on the market currently. According to Harvard Medical School, taking supplements like fish oil, folic acid, vitamin D and others are especially important for those suffering from deficiencies resulting from a health condition or genetics—and also for those with a dietary restriction like vegans and those with gluten allergies.
Additionally, supplements containing nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12 help break down food and convert it into energy, reduce muscle cramps and can accelerate muscle growth and hand-eye coordination. So, supplements have the potential to elevate any workout regime, even for young, healthy individuals.
Stretching & Cooldown
Linked directly to improved joint function, reduced rate of injury and increased athletic performance, incorporating stretching into a regular exercise routine has been shown to have a powerful impact on post-workout recovery, although it is a step many often skip. Recognizing the priority of prepping the body both before and after a workout is key to bouncing back more rapidly.
As a side note, most people understand the importance of stretching post-workout; however, it’s also important to warm up before a workout as well. Combining light exercise, like jogging with stretches and dynamic exercises, like lunges or jumping jacks, is a great way to do this.
Similar to the restorative properties of a good cooldown routine, engaging in active recovery is a great way to get the body primed for metabolic recovery through lower impact exercises, such as hiking, swimming and yoga.
Passive recovery (refraining from physical activity during rest periods) is still the way to go if suffering from an injury or illness—or if it simply doesn’t feel right to push the envelope. Listening to the signals sent by the body will be a good indicator towards whether or not getting active is the best use of a recovery period.
Taking a more holistic, natural approach to fitness is a great way to build more intuitive knowledge about how the body stores and expends energy, and the many factors that influence weight loss, muscle gain and workout recovery. If results aren’t forthcoming, it could be time to analyze the body’s current resting stats like body mass index and adjust the approach accordingly.
It’s important to consult a physician or other licensed expert and develop a plan that takes into account individual circumstances and pre-existing health conditions. No one person’s journey to optimal health is the same as another’s, however utilizing natural remedies and practicing intuitive exercise methods are good rules of thumb for anyone.