How to treat yourself after a strenuous workout

You’ve just completed a strenuous session, enjoying those post-workout endorphins and that familiar “you’ve worked hard” ache. But how do you aid recovery after giving it your all during an intense sweat session? From the assistance of contrast water therapy to focusing on hydration, there are plenty of ways to help your body recover after a tough workout. 

It’s no grand secret that staying hydrated is something we should be making a priority each and every day. However, this becomes especially important when including a tough workout into your day. Simply ensuring that you drink at least the recommended amount of 2 litres per day is an easy yet effective way to help your body to feel it’s best.

Our body is made up of around 60% water so making sure that you’re topping up your fluids is important before, during, and after your workout to prevent dehydration. During exercise, you can lose up to 1 to 2 litres of water every hour through your breath and perspiration, so it’s vital to keep these fluid levels topped up. Water helps to fuel your muscles, so drinking during your gym-sessions is a great way to improve your overall bodily functions, assist with your energy levels and prevent cramping – win, win, win!

If you’re after something with a little more oomph than water, but without the additional sugars of your typical sports drinks then why not turn to coconut water? High in electrolytes, aids in rehydration and with the extra nutritional value that water doesn’t offer – it’s a great alternative for either during, or after your next workout! This Breakfast Zinger Juice recipe contains 2 cups of coconut water and is an easy yet effective way to make a deliciously hydrating, nutritious drink!

PRO TIP: Why not substitute your water or preferred milk in your next smoothie, with coconut water!?

Incorporating contrast water therapy into your post workout routine has been shown to increase the speed at which your body recovers after an intense workout. Contrast hydrotherapy consists of brief yet repeated immersions in water, regularly switching between cold and warm temperatures. Research shows that the use of this therapy post workout can reduce pain and swelling, as well as lessen muscle fatigue and helps to remove excess lactic acid buildup.

Contrast hydrotherapy works due to the intense immersions between the contrasting water temperatures; creating rapid changes in your circulatory system. When the body is exposed to cold water, the capillaries respond by getting smaller and your heart rate increases; whereas, when the body is submerged in warm water the opposite happens. The contrast between these two environments has been shown to offer several benefits, especifically by assisting recovery and injury, and decreasing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and muscle weakness.

Active forms of therapy, such as moving and stretching your muscles post workout are also very simple, yet consistently effective ways to improve your recovery. Dedicate a set period of time to cooling down after your workout to speed up recovery. These activities don’t need to be complex, an easy 5-10 minute walk or yoga session, followed by some static stretches whilst your muscles are still warm does the job perfectly! 

The addition of massage to your recovery schedule may seem like a real luxury, but it offers many benefits. Receiving a massage has been shown to be healing for damaged muscle tissue and speeds up recovery time by relieving muscle tightness and tension and stimulating the blood flow so that blood, oxygen and nutrients reach the damaged areas.

The list wouldn’t be complete without the mention of sleep. Practising good sleep hygiene is undoubtedly important day-to-day, but is a vital component to muscle recovery after an intense workout. Ensuring that you get the right amount of sleep for you and your body, is important to support muscle recovery. When you sleep your pituitary gland releases the growth hormone which your muscles need to both repair and build tissue this is crucial for athletic performance and recovery.

Why not wind down for the night with a turmeric latte (sometimes known as ‘golden milk’)? It’s a great anti-inflammatory drink due to the turmeric, and has also been shown to have fantastic soothing properties that can assist with relaxation at bedtime for a better night’s sleep. Or perhaps try this Fresh Turmeric Smoothie recipe in an evening for a delicious post-dinner drink to assist your nighttime routine. It’s time to start prioritising getting some extra zzz’s!

So next time you’re working through a solid session at the gym, or your trainer’s idea of fun is an intense round of burpees, make sure you take some time to reconsider your post-workout routine after your chosen exercise. Prioritise your sleep, stay hydrated, and make sure to look after your body post workout for a better recovery!