If you’re serious about your exercise, you must also be serious about your recovery. Recovery is an essential part of training that is necessary for optimized physical performance. Most people understand that getting enough rest and eating a good meal after exercise is important, but many people underestimate its impact and how integral it is to any exercise routine. So here’s the top 5 ways to recover post-workout.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can occur between 12 to 24 hours post exercise, causing muscle pain, aches and total body fatigue. So to understand which recovery method is the most effective, researchers have examined their effects on the intensity of DOMS - a variable that impedes recovery.
If you want to step your game up, try out some of these popular and well researched methods to optimize your recovery and physical performance.Foam Rolling
Did you know that your muscles and tissues are covered with a thin sheet like substance called the fascia? Your fascia essentially holds everything together, but when you workout intensely or because of lifestyle factors like sitting all day - your fascia gets tight and you experience a reduced range of motion and muscle soreness.
Foam rolling has been shown to accelerate recovery by causing myofascial release. This is essentially the smoothing out of your fascia. A study published in 2014 found that foam rolling sped up recovery time between sessions, allowing participants to perform better, more consistently.
Post exercise stretching is the most commonly performed recovery modality, and the current body of research demonstrates that it may have several beneficial effects on recovery. These effects range from decreasing muscle soreness, albeit by a very small amount, increasing flexibility, increasing local blood flow, and decreasing neural excitability. As a result, static stretching may be a useful form of recovery following exercise.
Cold water immersion therapy for a duration of 14 to 15 minutes has been shown to improve performance in selected studies. Contrast immersion is beneficial for recovery of performance outcomes (for example in sprinting). This involves intermittently changing between hot and cold water. Research has found positive effects of water immersion at temperatures of 10 to 15°C for cold water and 38 to 40°C for hot water.Lifestyle Adaptations
Arguably the most effective way to recover post-workout is to focus on correct nutrition, hydration and getting enough sleep - two recovery modalities that have been studied the most and have the most benefits. That means you’re getting at least eight hours of sleep per night, consuming a clean diet - eating enough protein and drinking lots of water.
Sports massage has been shown in research to improve blood circulation and promote the drainage of the lymphatic system. This assists in the removal of metabolites and other toxins, like lactic acid, that build up during intensive exercise.
Studies have shown a link between reduced DOMS in the case of sports massages post exercise. For example, one study found that sports massage was effective in alleviating DOMS by approximately 30 percent and helps to reduce the swelling of connective tissue.
However, most people can’t afford to get a professional massage after each time they exercise. So what’s their option?
The answer: massage guns!
What is a massage gun?
Massage guns are a type of manual vibration/percussion therapy. They are handheld gun-shaped machines with a soft point at the end that is used on top of the skin, providing rapid bursts of pressure deep into muscle tissues. They work exactly the same as a professional massage, but have added benefits that make them an absolutely key tool for sports recovery.
Here are the top 3 benefits of using a massage gun
- For sports recovery
As mentioned, massage guns help to accelerate sports recovery. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Diagnostic Research examined the efficacy of massage guns on DOMS. The researchers found that massage guns effectively prevented DOMS, meaning if you use a massage gun, you’re less likely to feel muscle pain or tightness 24 to 72 hours after exercise.
- It’s a manual massage
As shown in a 2008 study, massages are arguably the best way to reduce inflammation, decrease muscle pain, recover post-workout, increase range of motion and boost performance. However, they’re expensive and time consuming. A massage gun offers the same benefits of a deep tissue massage, but can be performed manually in the comfort of your own home.
- They’re actually effective
As with all equipment - it’s only as beneficial as it is effective. Massage guns provide an extremely intensive vibrational treatment to assist with a range of neuromuscular conditions. The massage heads provide targeted therapy for certain trigger points, to loosen tissue, increase blood flow and reduce pain.
Massage guns are becoming more popular and commonplace in the fitness industry, because they’re easy to use, accessible and effective. If you’re yet to try out a massage gun, take this as your sign to try one out!
Aside from massage guns, the other 4 recovery modalities have all been proven in research to be effective, so make sure you check them out.