Women

Want to get into shape? Some of the most important steps you can take to boost your fitness don’t happen in the cardio or strength phase of your workout, but during the recovery stage. When you exercise hard, you break down muscle fibers, which then heal and become stronger. While this process is happening, your muscles may feel sore. Luckily, pain from today’s workout needn’t be an excuse to skip tomorrow’s training if you follow these tips.

1.    Pummel Pain

Having a sports massage after a workout will improve blood flow and nutrient delivery to your muscles, which clears out waste products and breaks down scar tissue. The result is your muscles don’t feel so stiff and you can exercise more often. ‘A good sports massage not only reduces muscle tightness, but improves posture and prevents injury,’ says Evelyn Kummer, sports massage therapist at Ten Pilates (tenpilates.com).

Having a sports massage after a workout will improve blood flow and nutrient delivery to your muscles, which clears out waste products and breaks down scar tissue.

Having a sports massage after a workout will improve blood flow and nutrient delivery to your muscles, which clears out waste products and breaks down scar tissue.

Quick fix: Get to grips with a foam roller. This nifty bit of kit is a great DIY massage tool, too. Find a selection of rollers at physicalcompany.co.uk.

2.    Lossen Up

A post-workout stretch will help your muscles repair after exercise. ‘When you stretch a muscle, tension in the fibers increases, which helps realign entangled muscle fibers and speeds up recovery,’ says Kummer. And by increasing blood circulation and lymph flow, stretching also reduces the lactic acid build-up that induces fatigue.

Quick fix: Don’t want to stretch after training? Work stretching into your life by limbering up after breakfast or before going to bed.

3.    Move A Little

Science shows that following a hard training session with a day of light activity aids recovery by boosting circulation and flushing out toxins. ‘Active recovery is very effective at reducing muscle lactate levels,’ says Barbara Bailey, personal trainer at Pure Gym (puregym.com). Opt for a low-intensity activity, such as walking.

Opt for a low-intensity activity, such as walking.

Opt for a low-intensity activity, such as walking.

Quick fix: Alternate between a hot and cold shower post-workout it will boost blood flow around your body.

4.    Ecovery Remedies

After a long workout, use herbal lotions to ease achy joints. ‘Never underestimate the power of aroma!’ says Noella Gabriel, Elemis director of product development. ‘If you’re suffering from muscle aches, rosemary, pine and thyme essential oils are very soothing.’ Alternatively, lavender lotions have analgesic properties that can remedy almost any pain. Comfrey creams are highly effective at stimulating tissue repair, and juniper oil boasts a diuretic action that reduces the pain of muscle spasms.

Quick fix: Add Elemis Aching Muscle Super Soak, ($55; timetospa.co.uk) to your bath for instant relief. Bliss.

5.    Hit The Sack

Having a day off is one of the simplest and most effective ways to recover. ‘If you’re training five or more times per week, a rest day will work wonders,’ says Bailey. ‘It will give your body time to relax and repair before you train again.’

It will give your body time to relax and repair before you train again.

It will give your body time to relax and repair before you train again.

Quick fix: Go to bed early. Your body releases human growth hormone during sleep, which aids muscle repair.

6.    Chow Down

When you work out, your body uses glycogen for fuel, which is stored in your muscles. To refill these stores and help your muscles recover better, eat some carbohydrate and protein within an hour of exercise. ‘Refuelling quickly will rapidly help replenish glycogen, stimulate insulin and improve your next performance,’ says Bailey.

Quick fix: Drink a recovery shake, ideally with whey protein, as whey is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream.

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