If you’re a dedicated jogger, weight-lifter, yogi, or cyclist, you are committed to staying in shape, treating your body well, and preventing future health problems. However, there is more to working out than the amount of time you spend at the gym. Taking care of your body before and after a workout is just as crucial to your fitness. If you find yourself sore for days after a workout or you’re starting to develop pain in your muscles and joints, there may be a few necessary post-workout steps that you’re missing. After your workout, be sure to incorporate these essential techniques to avoid cramping, promote better fitness, and speed recovery.
Replenishing Your Fluids
The research is indisputable. Drinking water after (and before) a workout is essential in maintaining proper bodily functions as well replenishing fluids that you sweat out while exercising. But did you know that drinking water after you exercise can also slow down your heart rate? The rule of thumb is to at least replace the amount of water you’ve lost during your workout. In other words, if you lose half a pound after your workout, you should replace it with between half a pound to one pound of water- If you’ve lost 3 pounds, gradually hydrate yourself 3 or more pounds as your thirst allows over the rest of the day. Hydration is one of the key elements to proper health. You don’t need fancy sports drinks that are packed with artificial sugars. Simply water and a piece of fruit will replace the fluids and most electrolytes lost while sweating. For more aggressive workouts, plan to replenish more electrolytes by eating something healthy and full of electrolytes, such as seeds, beans, nuts, yogurt, or kale.
Getting a Full Rest
Did you know that the most important part of your workout happens in between your trips to the gym? When we rest after working out, we allow our bodies to rebuild the tissues that have been broken down by lifting weights, which enables our muscles to grow back stronger. Not permitting your body to fully rest in between your workouts can cause serious damage, such as strains and sprains, pulled muscles, even long-term tissue damage.
Your sleeping hours are where the magic happens. That’s when our bodies go to work rebuilding muscle, producing growth hormones, regulating metabolism, and reducing stress. Lack of sleep is bad for anybody, so if you’re putting your body through more stress by exercising, you can imagine how tired, depleted, and sore you’ll feel without your full 7–8 hours.
Kinesiology tape can provide the right amount of support while being active, but you should always consult a professional before use, as the improper application can make your injury worse and prolong your recovery.
Working on Flexibility
Improving your flexibility can benefit your workout in several ways. Flexibility is linked to deeper stretching, better form, and reduced risk of injury, stiffness, and soreness. The better your range of motion, the more you’ll get from your workout. Many people, especially weightlifters, are guilty of not paying attention to their flexibility because they don’t perceive it as being an important part of muscle gain. However, the more flexible you are, the more improved your form is and the fuller contraction you can get while exercising. Proper form and technique leader to faster results. Yoga and Pilates are great for improving range of motion and flexibility. Stretching your muscles after your workout while your muscles are still warm will also prevent stiffness and soreness.
Not Working Through the Pain
Ignoring muscle cramps or pains is probably the worst thing you can do. When we hurt, our bodies are trying to tell us something. Not paying attention to these signals can lead to serious tissue damage and chronic musculoskeletal issues. If you’re hurting and you don’t know why, make an appointment with a sports therapist who can diagnose the issue and recommend the proper treatment. At Pacific Health & Sports Therapy, we offer many services related to sports injuries. If you live in the Burnaby area, book an appointment or contact us today.