Getting a good workout is a satisfying experience. Satisfying, that is, until you wake up the next day barely able to move because of the pain and stiffness associated with intense exercise.
If you’re the sort who thinks pain and exercise are inextricably related — that you can’t have one without the other — then I have good news for you. There are tricks and techniques you can use to help you recover from exercise more quickly than you otherwise would. And you don’t have to be a professional athlete or member of an expensive gym to benefit from these procedures. In fact, most of these exercise recovery techniques have been around for ages.
Obviously, it’s important to distinguish between normal, post-exercise soreness, and actual injury. With experience, you’ll know when you are injured and when you’re just tired and sore. If you get injured following an intense exercise session, it’s important to lower the intensity level in the future. There’s no point in experiencing a fitness setback because you were unable to contain your enthusiasm during the workout. It’s better to work out in a safe and sane manner than it is to go ‘hardcore’ and risk injury or severe strains.
Exercise recovery is often made difficult by the presence of swelling. One of the best ways to get over a difficult exercise session is to remember the RICE principle. That is:
Rest – Give your body time to recover. Don’t work out again until you heal from the rigors of your previous exercise session.
Ice – Use ice to reduce swelling in joints. Swelling lengthens the time needed to recover from exercise.
Compression – If noticeable swelling is present, you can help the situation by using a compression bandage.
Elevation – Keep swollen areas above the level of your heart so fluid drains more readily that it otherwise would.
Another good exercise recovery technique (especially following strenuous sessions of weight lifting involving compound exercises and other low-rep strength training programs) is to use contrast baths. This technique uses hot and cold water to stimulate blood flow in a body part. Increasing the blood flow helps to flush away metabolic byproducts and bring nutrients to an area that’s undergoing protein synthesis after weight lifting.
Recovery workouts are a handy tool to have in your bag of tricks. These are light-intensity workouts that are designed to get the blood flowing and to keep the body flexible and limber. Instead of resting with absolutely no physical activity, use a light recovery workout to speed your body’s adaptation to your main exercise program. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is a time-tested way to start working out again sooner than you might think possible.
So don’t just lay around complaining about exercise soreness. Use these techniques to your advantage and laugh in the face of pain!
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