January 05, 2023 4 min read

Exercise is no doubt good for your body. It helps burn calories, strengthens muscles, and improves balance and coordination. But it breaks down muscle fibers, building them up stronger. So the faster you can recover from a workout, the sooner you can do another. That’s why it's vital to know how to speed up muscle recovery after an intense workout to resume training or compete again.

What is muscle recovery?

Muscle recovery is crucial in any workout. It’s when your muscles rebuild themselves after exertion. Muscle recovery allows you to perform better in future activities and achieve your fitness goals. 24 to 48 hours are usually enough muscle recovery time. 

Here are some easy ways to speed up muscle recovery after an intense workout:

How to Speed Up Muscle Recovery After Intense Workout

painful muscle

Exercising is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and can help you achieve your fitness goals. After an intense workout, however, it's important to make sure that your muscles have enough time to recover properly in order for you to perform better in future activities. But how do you speed up muscle recovery after an intense workout? 

Movement

Movement is one of the most effective ways to speed up muscle recovery after an intense workout. Research has shown that regular physical activity can help reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to improved muscle recovery.

This means that light movement after a strenuous workout can help your muscles heal more quickly. Regular physical activity can help improve blood circulation and deliver more oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, which can also help speed up recovery. 

Many of us thought for a long time that we needed to rest after a workout, and while it’s still important to take breaks in between sessions, light exercise such as walking or stretching can be beneficial.

Check out this clip from the Mind Pump Show podcast where they talk about how movement is still the best way to speed up muscle recovery after an intense workout.

Eat protein-rich foods after exercise.

protein diet

What you consume after a workout can make a difference in how fast your muscles recover, so it's paramount to eat right if you want to get back on the horse again as soon as possible. Protein makes up muscle fibers, so eating protein-packed foods for 15 minutes to an hour is recommended.

Muscle recovery food after an intense workout

  • Banana
  • Sweet potato
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Turmeric
  • Nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts)
  • Seeds (chia seeds, flax seeds)
  • Turmeric 
  • Oatmeal 
  • Salmon
  • Cottage cheese
  • Quinoa
  • Wholegrain bread

Rehydrate

rehydrate

Water will help flush out toxins in your muscles and lactic acid build-up.

Hydration also helps prevent cramping and fatigue during exercise.

Drink plenty of water or healthy drinks to replace the lost electrolytes.


Muscle recovery drinks after an intense workout:

  • Coconut water
  • Low-sugar sports drinks
  • Green tea
  • Chocolate milk 
  • Fresh fruit juices (1.6 ounces of tart cherry juice daily may help reduce inflammation and muscle damage.)

Get a massage

massage chair

To delay the onset of muscle soreness, you should get a massage as soon as possible after the exercise. 

Sports massage is helpful for post-workout pain, but remedial, deep tissue, relaxation, and warm oil massage are also beneficial for sore muscles. 

Let your therapist know which muscle needs extra care and attention. 

There are massage chairs that mimic the movement of a real therapist. You can change the settings of a massage chair to speed, strokes, and intensity of your choice, so you get the relief your knot muscles need. 

The massage chair also helps you relax your mind after an extreme adrenaline rush.

Heat Therapy

During exercise,  lactic acid concentration increases. Lactic acid does not necessarily cause muscle soreness but may lead to complications when not removed quickly. Heat therapy can facilitate in flushing out lactic acid.

More importantly, heat therapy dilates the blood vessels and increases blood flow, thus helping relieve achy muscles and joints.

Sauna

sauna

A dry sauna benefits patients experiencing chronic and low back pain, muscle stiffness, and fatigue. The link between wellness, muscle relief, and sauna is undeniable, so some gyms offer sauna baths in their facilities. Sitting in the sauna is also a great time to relax your mind and slow down after a challenging and strenuous day of training.

Steam bath

Steam bath is another great place to hang out after a serious workout. The heat in  steam rooms increases blood flow and relieves sore muscles. It also helps you sweat out toxins.

Muscle recovery equipment

Battery-operated or plugged-in rechargeable heat therapy tools can be used as muscle recovery equipment. 

vibrating knee massager
view product

The 
Master Massage Hertz Heated Vibrating Knee Massager, for example, improves the blood flow & circulation around the knee, encouraging muscles and damaged tissue to heal.

Heat massagers are mostly portable enough to bring traveling or use while driving, sitting at your desk, watching TV, or reading. 

Do light stretching or yoga poses.

Stretching will help knotted muscles relax and increase blood flow, which in turn helps you recover faster after a powerful exercise. Doing yoga can also improve your flexibility and range of motion, helping you perform and move better during a workout. In addition, post-workout stretches can reduce cramping and inflammation. 

Get plenty of sleep

The body pain you feel after an intense workout can impede your daily activities and affect your performance. Sleep is when the body rest and recovers from the day's exhaustion. Without proper rest, your muscles won't be able to repair themselves fully, leaving you feeling sore and tired even after a short run. So give your body a break from the moving and exertion by getting at least eight hours of sleep. 


In summary

massage chair

After an exercise, your body needs time to recover and rebuild. You'll experience muscle soreness, stiffness, and weakness. These can't be avoided but can be alleviated and hastened. Speed up muscle recovery after an intense workout by eating right, rehydrating, getting a massage, going to the sauna, enjoying a steam bath, stretching, and finally, sleeping a long time. Do these, and you’ll be ready to conquer another day at the gym or trail in no time.

Leave a comment