Staying physically active can be rewarding, but it’s important to remember that your body needs time to recover.
The more you push yourself during physical activity, the more important it is to allow your body proper opportunity to recover. Recovery is important for two reasons: it allows your muscles to repair and grow, and it helps you avoid injuries.
Several methods have been proven to help your body recover post-workout.
From proper sleep and nutrition to stretching and hydrotherapy for exercise recovery, we’re diving in to help you maximize the efficacy of your workout routine.
Why Post-Workout Recovery Is Crucial
According to the American Council on Exercise, recovery is the single most important component of an exercise protocol.
This is because muscles do not grow directly through exercise but rather during recovery from exercise. While someone is exercising, they are tearing down the muscles.
During post-workout recovery, those broken down muscle fibers repair and recover, becoming stronger so that they can better perform the job the next time.
Since it is during this recovery phase that the actual muscle growth occurs, it is paramount to ensure your post-workout recovery is optimized.
Here are some of the ways that intentional post-workout recovery will benefit your exercise routine:
- Reduce the risk of injury
- Promote growth in muscles
- Improve performance in future workouts
- Increase your energy levels for future workouts
- Minimize muscle soreness in days following exercise
Now that we understand the importance of being intentional about a post-workout recovery routine let’s look at some of the ways you can recover following a workout.
Methods of Post-Workout Recovery
“Post-workout” can be a broad concept. In some ways, anytime we are not exercising, we are in recovery mode.
Some of the following suggestions are passive lifestyle habits, while others are intentional actions to immediately follow your exercise routine.
Hydration is a vital part of post-workout recovery, as your body cannot function at its best when it is not well-hydrated. Therefore, you should ideally begin increasing your water consumption before you finish your workout.
Nobody likes to exercise on a full stomach of water, so it is common to begin hydrating about an hour before a workout and begin rehydrating near the end.
Stretching has been shown to be very effective in recovering from an exercise routine. Stretching after a workout can help increase flexibility and aid in muscle recovery following physical activity.
Hydrotherapy treatments can help relieve sore or tired muscles following physical activity. Many different types of hydrotherapy focus on different parts of the body.
One type is hot tub hydrotherapy, which uses time in a therapeutic, heated spa to help your muscles relax and recover following physical activity.
Using hot water has been shown to reduce muscle tension and quicken muscle recovery by promoting blood flow through vasodilation.
When muscles are not tense, they do not require as much blood flow, so the body can focus on delivering more nutrients and oxygen to the muscles that need it.
There are many benefits of hot tub hydrotherapy, including:
- helping with chronic pain relief
- reducing muscle tension and soreness
- improving sleep quality by lessening restless leg syndrome symptoms (RLS) and increasing serotonin levels
- reducing stress and anxiety
- boosting the immune system by increasing white blood cell count
- increasing joint mobility
- relaxing muscles for improved range of motion
- increasing energy levels
- improving mental health
Certainly, the benefits of hydrotherapy go well beyond exercise recovery. We exercise to improve our lives, and part of that is feeling relaxed and healthy enough to put forth the effort we need during exercise.
Hydrotherapy treatments can help make this happen, making it a valuable tool for your workout recovery plan.
Sleep is one of the most significant and overlooked post-workout recovery factors. Sleeping will help your body recover from exercise, as well as boost energy levels for the next day’s workout routine.
In addition, during sleep, your body releases growth hormone, which helps to rebuild the muscles you’ve broken down during exercise.
Similarly to hydration, proper nutrition can help reduce soreness and increase muscle strength following a workout.
Eating a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats will provide your body with the nutrients it needs for optimal health, as well as aid in muscle recovery.
Of course, different types of food may be better than others for aiding in different muscles groups’ recovery, and this is a topic of its own right.
Heat therapy involves using heat to help relax your muscles. Hot tubs and saunas are an immediate go-to for people wanting to implement the benefits of heat therapy from their post-workout routine.
Hydromassage waterbeds are another example of this type of treatment because they use the pressure and weight of the bed’s filled water to provide an intense massage.
Cold therapy uses cold temperatures to reduce muscle tension, swelling, and pain.
Cold baths or showers are one way to include cold therapy in your post-workout routine. In addition, ice packs allow for more specific targeting of soreness.
Just as there are many benefits to using hydrotherapy for muscle recovery, numerous supplements are designed to aid in the process. Some of these supplements include:
- alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
- creatine monohydrate
- omega-3 fatty acids
Many supplements aid the recovery process. However, be sure to consult a doctor before taking any supplements as they can have adverse effects.
Massage is known to be beneficial in aiding post-workout recovery. Professional massages are recommended but not always accessible. Thankfully, there are devices on the market today that can provide the benefits of massage to you at home.
These include portable and stationary massagers.
Portable massagers are used directly on the sore muscles and can help to relax them, much like a professional massage.
Stationary massagers come in many different shapes and sizes. They work by simply placing them against your skin where you feel pain or tension.
Hydrotherapy massage through the powerful jets of a hot tub is an alternative to a professional massage. The added benefit of incorporating heat therapy makes hydrotherapy massage among the most beneficial ways to help your body recover post-workout.
Another way to aid in muscle recovery is through active recovery. As important as rest and recovery are, light to moderate activity can promote blood flow and accelerate muscle repair.
In addition, active recovery seeks to rouse the muscles instead of relaxing them, as done in the approaches mentioned above.
Here are a few ways to implement active recovery into your post-workout routine.
A light jog will help circulate blood flow throughout your entire body and warm the muscles up for later use.
A light cycle is another great way to include active recovery in your post-workout routine.
You can enjoy cycling indoors or outside, and while it is light activity, it can still help you relax and recover from your workout.
A light weightlifting routine in addition to jogging, swimming, or cycling is another way to include active recovery post-workout.
Focus on the same muscle group you recently trained, but only enough to wake the muscles up and promote blood flow.
Taking a hike is another great way to include active recovery in your post-workout process.
This not only helps circulation and wakes up muscle tissue, but it is a great way to spend time in nature and further relax your body.
Hydrotherapy for Active Recovery
There are several beneficial approaches to hydrotherapy for active recovery.
By incorporating hydrotherapy into your routine, you are often benefiting from multiple of the suggested post-workout recovery methods, compounding the benefits and freeing up time!
Humans are made to move through water, and swimming is an easy way to help relax sore muscles while moving around.
Also, swimming is a great way to incorporate hydrotherapy for active recovery as it helps engage every muscle group and your cardiovascular system.
Hydropool Swim Spas
Swim spas are a fantastic way to optimize your post-workout recovery to include heat therapy, hydrotherapy, active recovery, and stretching.
SwimLife Swim Spas provide a solution for low-intensity exercises with an open area and optional resistance through high-powered jets. The strong jet power creates a current that allows for walking, running, or swimming in place.
Then, when the active recovery component is complete, you can benefit from the relaxation and benefits of the hot tub itself, including specific muscle targeting through the use of jets.
There really isn’t a better approach to post-workout recovery!
Sundance Spas of New Hampshire
Be sure to speak with your doctor about post-workout recovery to determine what’s best for you and the type of physical activity you engage in regularly.
Consulting a health care provider can help you better understand how your body responds to exercise and the types of exercises that will benefit you.
By including a mixture of hydrotherapy and other forms of muscle recovery, you’ll be on track to get the most benefit possible from your routine.
Contact our experts at Sundance Spas of New Hampshire to bring a hot tub or swim spa home with you to improve your post-workout recovery routine, reduce your chances of injury after your workouts, and enjoy the many other benefits of pools and spas.