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Muscle Recovery 101

Posted by Admin on 6/21/2014

Workout and Muscle Recovery


Recover Muscles FasterAthleticism is a main component of today's culture. It seems as though everyone today is on the move. With all of this activity being present in the lives of many, muscle recovery after a workout is just as important as the workout, itself. While most beginner athletes, and many seasoned ones, do not comprehend the full importance of workout recoveries, they do need to seek out the knowledge. Again, this is part of the workout process and is just as essential as all of the other steps.

Q: What is muscle recovery?
A: Muscle recovery, also commonly referred to as workout recovery, is the time after a workout during which the individual allows their muscles to repair themselves.

Q: What does it mean when people say that muscles need to “repair themselves”?
A: During any kind of physical activity, small fibers in the muscles get ripped. While this is damage, it actually helps the muscles to become stronger. The damage triggers the muscles to repair the tears, making them stronger the second (or whatever number) time around. Stronger fibers replace the torn ones, improving the strength and durability of the muscles.

Q: How long does workout recovery take?
A: This is one of those questions where the answer is different for each individual. For instance, newer athletes may have to allow more time for their muscles to recover. They are not used to the physical activity, and so their muscles are prone to more damage. Meanwhile, people who are more used to working out will not experience as much muscle damage and soreness as some others. Therefore, they would not need as much time to recover. In general, though, muscles need approximately 24 to 48 hours after the exercise to recover fully.

Q: Is it safe to workout during the recovery process?
A: Yes. While, technically, muscles do need 24 to 48 hours to recover properly, it is perfectly fine to continue to engage in physical activity during those one or two days. Some people, such as those who are new to more intense physical activity, may want to take it easy after the initial workout. However, most will be alright with a little exercise during the following days. Also, there are ways to speed up the recovery process, which could also help people continue their exercise during the muscle recovery.

Q: What are the benefits of muscle recovery?
A: Besides the reduction of obvious physical pain, the recovery process can do many things for the body. First of all, it helps to improve overall physical health and strength. Secondly, it allows for a decreased risk of further injury. Third, without recovery, muscle strain, tears, torn ligaments, etc. can occur. These are painful conditions that can also lead to long term complications for further athletic endeavors.



Muscle Recovery Tips


The recovery process can be split up into separate time frames. First of all, short term recovery occurs immediately after the workout. As one might guess, this is not the long stage of the process. However, it is still essential. The goal of short term recovery is replenishment of everything that is lost during a workout, i.e. muscle fibers, body fluids (ex. sweat), overall energy, etc.

Long term recovery, on the other hand, refers to built in recovery times during the workout schedule. This is more so a component in seasonal or year round training and sports than a one time workout. This has the same benefits as short term recovery, but it also helps the body strengthen and adapt to regular exercise.


Suggestions


To begin, the steps taken before the workout starts are just as necessary as those taken after the workout ends. Most importantly, people need to stretch before any workout. Stretching, even lightly, can help prevent any injury that could come about during exercise. Now, this is not a guarantee that injury will not occur. However, stretching significantly reduces the risk of injury. It will also allow the individual to perform better and feel better during the workout.

There are also precautions to be taken during the workout. First of all, people need to listen to their bodies. If an exercise becomes painful past the point of being tolerable, then it is time to stop. Exercise of any kind will be uncomfortable to some degree, simply because human beings are not made to be going like that 24/7. Most people do not exercise everyday, if at all.

Secondly, over-training should be avoided. While this is similar to listening to one's body, they are two somewhat different concepts. The former refers to the pain of the situation. Here, this refers to over-training in the long term. The number of workout sessions should be coordinated with a person's ability. Furthermore, no matter how many sessions a person does during the week, not every session should be the same amount of activity. It is a bad idea to go light every time, because then the muscles are not really getting a workout. On the other hand, heavy training day in and day out is also a bad idea because then the muscles can not really recover fully.

Finally, during the after workout recovery, several tips should be kept in mind. For instance, stretching should be done after the workout just like before the workout. Relaxation, both mentally and physically, are also important. Quality sleep is another component of the rest and relaxation process.

Baths are also a great idea afterward. Not only do they provide the obvious benefit of personal hygiene, but they can also allow for mental and physical recovery and relaxation. Icing after a workout is helpful and some people choose to take ice baths versus hot baths. Actually, both have their benefits. In fact, more and more people have started to engage in a practice known as “contrast water therapy”. This is the alternation between 2 minutes of hot water with 30 seconds of cold water. While there is relatively limited research behind this, it has been known in numerous cases to reduce the risk of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), one of the biggest issues for athletes, as well as other post-workout complications.



Detox Bath Recipe


Exercise has many benefits for overall mental and physical health. Without getting into too many details, one of these benefits is detox. It can help rid the body of unnecessary toxins, while also keeping a person in a steady and positive mental state.

Well, another important component to workout detox is the bath afterward. The previous section spoke about various bath methods, including contrast water therapy. No matter what method an athlete chooses, there are supplements that could be added to these baths to speed up the muscle recovery. Also referred to as “bath soak”, these supplements offer various ingredients specifically tailored to help the body recovery after the workout.

Salts

Many types of salts, such as Pacific Sea Salts, Epsom Salts, and Dendritic Salts, are often used in these bath soaks. Salts like these, which are absorbed through the pores in the skin and go directly into the muscles. Then, they offer multiple benefits that go beyond muscle recovery.

First of all, these help to replace the magnesium that the body loses during workouts. This helps to curb the soreness from the physical activity, but also helps to reduce stress. They also trigger the release of serotonin that relieve stress.

Secondly, they reduce the amount of acid, especially lactic, in the body by going straight into the bloodstream. Lactic acid makes the body stiff. Therefore, these salts work to help the body recover physically in an overall sense.

Baking Soda

Baking soda, like sea salt, also helps to reduce the amount of lactic acid in the body. This creates an alkaline solution in the bath, which neutralizes the body's acidity level. On a side note, the use of baking soda both before and during physical activity of any kind can help prevent the build-up of lactic acid in the first place.

Vitamin E

The early 2000's saw an increase in studies showing the importance of Vitamin E in muscle recoveries. To explain, during a workout, free radicals build up in the body, mainly in the muscles. This, among other things (like those mentioned above) contribute to the muscle soreness that many experience after a workout.

Vitamin E's role exists in that it initially acts as an antioxidant to protect the cells from this free radical build-up. Secondly, Vitamin E also protects the muscles from inflammation that can lead to more soreness, stiffness, and various injuries and other conditions.

Aloe

Aloe is included in the muscle recovery process. While it mainly works on the joints, and mainly used by those who are suffering from arthritis and related conditions, it is still important for a workout recovery. First of all, aloe contains a wide variety of essential nutrients needed to recover.

Finally, as for joint pain, aloe works by providing anti-inflammatory properties that ease both joint and muscle pain. Bringing down the swelling also prevents further injury. Aloe also speeds the growth of new tissues that both helps with recovery and overall strengthening.





References:


Carney, K. (2004, January 30). Vitamin E may reduce muscle soreness. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2004/HEALTH/01/30/hln.fit.vitamin.e/

Hoefs, J. (2013, August 16). Baking Soda for Sore Muscles. Livestrong. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/485588-baking-soda-for-sore-muscles/

Keller, S. (2011, November 30). Muscle Strain. WebMD. Retrieved from http://beta.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/muscle-strain

Quinn, E. (2014, March 21). 10 Ways To Recover Quickly After Exercise. About. Retrieved from http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/After-Exercise.htm

Quinn, E. (2014, February 27). The Benefits of Rest and Recovery After Exercise. About. Retrieved from http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/RestandRecovery.htm

Sea Salts & Epson Salts. (2011, December 13). Therapeutic Touch Massage. Retrieved from http://www.therapeutictouchmassagestudio.com/sea-salts-and-epsom-salts/

Underwood, C. (2013, August 16). Aloe Vera Juice for Joint Pain. Livestrong. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/282117-aloe-vera-juice-for-joint-pain/



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