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What to do after a workout: eating, stretching, avoiding muscle pain

Working out is a complex activity, and the exercising itself is not the only aspect you need to pay attention to. In this article, we’ll talk about what to do after a workout for maximum health and efficiency.

Stretching after workouts

Developing body flexibility is no less essential than strength or endurance training, but why is it so important?

Regular stretching helps increase the range of muscle motion around the joints. The benefits of stretching after workout include:

  • increased productivity when exercising
  • lower risk of musculoskeletal system injury when exercising and in daily life
  • stress reduction during muscle training and post-workout tension relief
  • improved body posture due to the elongation of certain target muscle groups (Constant static position makes us slouch.)

The best time for stretching is at the end of your workout because at that time, the muscles are relaxed and warmed up (i.e., have the maximum elasticity).

What to eat after a workout?

A post-workout meal is a very important step in achieving your goals.

The body’s most preferred power source during exercise is glycogen (carbohydrate deposits in the liver and muscles).

If you don’t replenish them (moderately, of course), then the lack of carbohydrates is bound to manifest itself in irritability, drowsiness, and acute fits of hunger, which can lead to ill-considered binge eating.

That's why a small carbohydrate snack (a banana, for example) is an excellent choice.

What’s more, during a workout, figuratively speaking, you’re destroying your muscles in order to change their quality.

The muscles are built from amino acids (synthesized by the body from protein), so a protein-rich meal (for example, a protein shake, eggs, lean fish, chicken breast, cottage cheese, etc.) can aid the process of anabolism (muscle recovery and growth).

Therefore, the best food to eat after a workout is a quick carbohydrate snack in combination with protein.

Sore muscles after workout

Painful sensations in the muscles can bother you if you are new to working out or have changed your training regime by significantly increasing the intensity.

Discomfort usually occurs between 24 and 48 hours after exercising. This is the result of the microtraumas to the muscle fibers, which cause inflammation and, consequently, pain.

Don’t worry, this is a natural mechanism of the body that is triggered by any unusual physical strain.

Such sensations signal that your muscles are beginning to adapt to training and are becoming stronger. As a rule, they completely disappear after 3–5 days.

It is important to understand the difference between mild discomfort and severe pain, which may come with sprains or other trauma.

If the pain is so strong that it makes it difficult for you to carry out everyday activities, please consult a doctor. You may have to avoid working out until the injured muscle is fully restored.

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Sore muscles treatment after workout

You should begin your workout with a warm-up.

  • If you are just beginning to exercise, increase the intensity gradually.
  • It is important to do light stretching of all muscle groups before, during, and after training. This will relieve tension.
  • It is recommended that you drink enough water while working out.
  • Immediately after training, you can take a warm shower or get a light massage.
  • It is advisable to keep moving the day after training. Simple walking or swimming will make for a pleasant relief.
  • If you are overworked and the muscle ache is severe, take a rest.

Balanced nutrition is also important (a sufficient amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats), and a good night’s sleep is helpful, too. This will help your body recover faster.

Don’t give up! The discomfort in your muscles means that your body is adapting to the new activity. Over time, the pain will decrease and stop bothering you.

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/sore-muscles-dont-stop-exercising#1
http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/why-do-I-feel-pain-after-exercise.aspx
https://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/exercises/the-importance-of-doing-warm-up-exercises-before-working-out.html
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15233597
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931

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