The most painful part of a workout often comes after the exercise itself. The day after a hard run or an intense lifting session, almost everyone feels the pain associated with sore muscles. Researchers call this phenomenon DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, and it’s the reason many of us turn to various techniques we’ve been told relieve the pain and speed up the recovery process.
Tactics from foam rollers to compression tights to ice baths have become popular among all athletes, whether they be weekend warriors or elite competitors. But none of them are the miracle products we often think they are.
Recovery-focused classes that incorporate everything from stretching to muscle compression have long been used by the pros to help speed healing after a hard-core workout. But for the average gymgoer, are they really better than just taking a day off?
Aschwanden's book examines the physiology behind different recovery methods and also offers an assessment of their effectiveness. Ultimately, she notes, the best form of recovery may be an old-fashioned one: listening to your own body.
"The most important skill that any athlete can develop is a sense of how their body is responding to exercise," she says. "How they're responding to their workouts; how they're feeling; what it feels like for them to be recovered or underrecovered."
Many runners do a great job in fuelling themselves for training and racing, but are you thinking enough about nutrition to ensure you recover properly between sessions?
For most of the 20th century, getting fitter just involved training harder. However, today’s elite athletes, weekend warriors and even recreational gym-goers know that they have to consider not just their workouts but their bodies’ recovery from them too, especially if they want to get stronger or faster.
Christie Aschwanden investigated the sports recovery market and found you don’t need sports drinks, cupping, or ice baths.
Relaxing as a massage, refreshing as a sports drink, these craft brews promise post-workout replenishment—though the science doesn’t always support the spiel
What you need to replenish depends on how much energy you’re burning.
"It's entirely possible gladiators were drinking ash drink," she says, "but they haven't proven it." The problem? Dairy doesn't show up in isotopes, so the gladiators could have been chowing down on more cheese and yogurt than the rest of the population.
Ice baths are used to reduce symptoms of muscle soreness, and maintain the results gained from training sessions in strength and endurance. However, a recent study found these effects could be little more than placebo. What does the rest of the evidence say?
Carbohydrate-rich diets are often recommended as part of exercise regimes to promote recovery and maximise performance. But recent research suggesting such foods may not help exercise recovery and their potential link with metabolic diseases are raising questions about whether this advice is still appropriate.
Some people claim it boosts their mood and soothes sore muscles—here’s what experts say.
Try these expert-approved strategies to ease the dreaded DOMS.
The best part of any exercise class is the few minutes of cooling down and recovery at the end. And, it turns out, it doesn’t just feel great; there has been a slow sea change in how we view recovery.
The optimal time for muscle recovery can vary, and it's difficult to know when to rest.
The problem with resting too little or not at all is that your muscles won't have time to recover and grow. You'll be more prone to injury, which can lead to months of inactivity and lost progress.
Your decision to take a cold or hot shower after exercise may not be as consequential as you think.
From Rolfing to acupuncture, athletes are focusing on healing as well as training.
Whether you harbor triathlon ambitions or are simply fed up with your chronically tight back, these are the right tools to soothe torn muscle fibers. The day after a workout, they’ll have you bouncing out of bed—or at least not crawling—ready for another session.
Whether you went running, cycling, swam laps or lifted weights, finishing up your exercise session isn’t the end of the challenge. Knowing what to eat after your workout can play a pivotal role in helping your body refuel, rehydrate and recover from exercise, as well as help your muscles rebuild.
Runners should try to consume some carbohydrate, ideally 50-100g within an hour of finishing the marathon in either food or drink form. This could include carbohydrate sports drinks, cereal bars, bananas or bread-based products. This is because the restoration of muscle and liver glycogen – the carbohydrate stored in the muscle and liver that are depleted during prolonged exercise – begins as soon as exercise ceases so carbohydrates are essential to maximise this process.
Learn how incorporating active recovery days into your workout routine can improve performance and help you meet your fitness goals.
A new study shows that rest is not as important to muscle growth as was previously thought.
For the best post-workout muscle recovery, sort the science from the snake oil.
Unfortunately, most people don't have an after exercise recovery plan. Here are some tips to get your post-workout plans on track.
You just spent 30 to 60 minutes working out—and now you have five minutes to focus on those well-worn muscles. "Focus on both static and dynamic stretches from head to toe, making sure to spend time on your hamstrings, quads, and glutes, seeing as they do most of the muscular work. But don't forget about the core!" he says. Refuel! In other words: Eat something.