You’ve just finished another gruelling workout.
If you’re like Tiger, you’re going to stagger into the change-room, grab a quick shower and head off to the nearest Hooters.
And like Tiger, you would be WRONG
When it comes to getting fit/healthy/buff/ripped/sexy/etc, your workouts are only half the equation. The other half of the equation is Workout Recovery.
And because I love you guys so darn much, I have put together my favorite Post-Workout Recovery Techniques.
- Post-Workout Carb/Protein Shake
- Hot/Cold Contrast Showers
- Fish Oils
- Meditation / Sleep
- Epsom Salt Baths
- Chiropractic / Acupuncture
Post-Workout Carb/Protein Shake
I have talked about this technique before. Simply put, it’s a no-brainer.
Post workout – your muscles are screaming for nutrients. Ignore that message and your workout recovery goes into slo-mo. Heed the message and the repair goes into overdrive.
More info here.
Hot/Cold Contrast Showers
Alternate between 30 seconds of cold water and two minutes of hot water. Perform this shrinkage inducing protocol three or four times.
While most of the claims about this recovery technique are anecdotal, there is some research showing that alternating hot/cold showers post-exercise is effective in lowering both heart rate and the levels of lactate in your blood. Anecdotally, contrast showers have been said to improve athletic recovery via increased blood flow and possible nutrient and waste product elimination (lactate). There may also be a psychological benefit and an increased feeling of alertness and fatigue reduction.
In my personal experience, contrast showers help reduce my post-workout DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) as well as perk me up for the rest of my day.
Your workouts cause inflammation.
Localized inflammation in joints and muscles. Systemic inflammation throughout your body. Fish oils are a great, natural, anti-inflammatory. Add some to your post-workout shake. If you already have issues with chronic inflammation, you may want to consider adding some Turmeric/Curcumin or Zyflamend into the mix.
Meditation / Sleep
High intensity workouts can be tough on the CNS (central nervous system)
And while there are lots of supplements (natural adaptogens & pharmaceutical agents) out there that claim to help repair & restore the CNS, I don’t feel comfortable recommending any of them. However, I am willing to push meditation & sleep as the two best CNS treatments ever invented.
Sleep – You probably don’t sleep enough already. Add in a tough workout routine and you’re looking for trouble. Get your 7-8 hrs.
Meditation – There are lots of ways to meditate. There are crunchy-granola yoga meditative techniques. There are medical based mindfulness meditation programs. Praying is a form of meditation. There are even mp3s you can buy that claim to help sync your brainwaves into the pattern best suited for meditation. But the simplest method may be to just sit or lie down, put your hands on your belly and focus as your breath flows in and out.
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) are another anti-inflammatory agent.
When added to a nice hot bath, they are absorbed through the skin and helps reduce muscular pain and general “achiness”. It also helps increase your levels of magnesium and may help reduce water retention.
The benefits of ice massage are questionable at best. But, I know a lot of athletes who swear by it, so I figured it best to include it in this review.
Most of the pro-Ice Massage evidence isanecdotal. The main claim is that ice massage is an effective method for reducing localized inflammation and reducing the symptoms of DOMS. However, the clinical research doesn’t agree. In fact, some researchers feel that ice massage should be contraindicated when it comes to preventing post-exercise DOMS.
So, I leave the decision up to you.
Personally, I will skip the post-workout ice massage. If you need more info, click here.
There are many different types of massage.
Medical research has shown that the benefits of massage include pain relief, reduced levels of anxiety and depression, and temporarily reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and state anxiety.
Plus, it just feels gooooood.
Get a massage every month or so. Your body will thank you.
TENS is a non-invasive, medically tested, safe nerve stimulation intended to reduce pain, both acute and chronic.
It’s also the subject of cheesy late night infomercials.
And that’s too bad. Because, in my experience, TENS is a great little tool for reducing muscular pain. I bought a unit two years ago after a car accident screwed up my neck, back, shoulder & knee. It wasn’t my only treatment modality, but it was convenient, effective and relatively cheap.
For post-workout pain, a TENS unit is probably overkill. But, for those older trainees who have a few chronic aches and pains, a TENS unit might be worth it’s weight in gold.
Chiropractic / Acupuncture
I group these two treatment modalities together because my chiropractor is also an acupuncturist and soft-tissue therapist. I don’t get one without the other.
I go every two months and Sheldon works out the kinks that I have managed to create. When I over-do the chin-ups and my bad shoulder acts up a little, Sheldon breaks out the acupuncture needles, re-adjusts the bones and does a little (excruciating) muscle stripping.
45 minutes later and I am a new man.
Traumeel is a homeopathic anti-inflammatory.
And, according to researchers, it works better than NSAIDS at reducing chronic inflammatory conditions as well as systemic inflammation caused by exercise. Plus, you get none of the unpleasant side-effects associated with NSAIDS.
Well, there you go. There’s my list of Post Workout Recovery Techniques.
Feel free to comment if you think I have missed something or if you disagree with one of my choices.