It’s not just the workout that you need to focus on – it’s what comes after, too
Exercising regularly is all well and good, but it doesn’t count for much if you don’t allow your body time to recover. Resting after workouts is essential for your muscles to rebuild and strengthen, but it’s also crucial for your general well-being. But aside from the obvious stretching and staying hydrated, what are some of the ways you can reward your body and mind after a workout? From ice baths to meditation, here are seven tips for post-exercise recovery.
1. Cryotherapy/ice bath
Like the world of fashion, the health and fitness industry is a sucker for trends. One of the more recent (and alarming) is cryotherapy, a treatment so extreme the very thought of it might actually bring you to tears. It requires the subject to submerge themselves in a -120⁰C standing bath of liquid nitrogen, which is said to drastically reduce inflammation and injury. For something less extreme though, you could just settle for an old-fashioned ice bath, the likes of which professional athletes regularly hop into straight after competition. This slightly less sadistic method works similarly, accelerating muscle recovery and reducing soreness, while also providing that addictive Wim Hof endorphin rush that only cold water can deliver.
Exercise isn’t all about the physical strain. Put yourself through a challenging workout and chances are you’ll find it mentally exhausting, too. The benefits of meditation are well documented. It helps to centre you, bringing you into the moment by calming your breathing, which in turn helps reduce nerves. For top athletes, it’s also beneficial mid performance. NBA superstar Lebron James has been known to close his eyes and meditate mid game. But it has its pros after working up a sweat, too. Dedicate a couple of minutes to meditation after a hard workout and you’ll slow down, de-stress and reset your body and mind. It reduces the stress hormone cortisol (which hampers muscle recovery), so not only will meditating after exercise calm you down, it can also help strengthen and build muscle mass.
3. CBD oil
Read the blurb on a CBD oil brand’s website and you’ll question why you haven’t always ingested a few daily drops of cannabis’s legal cousin. While many of its benefits are likely overblown, CBD oil is primarily used to reduce anxiety and stress. Many athletes rely on it before competition, attesting to its effectiveness. But it’s also useful after exercising, as well. Take a few drops under the tongue and it’ll help to reduce soreness and tender muscles, as well boost the chances of a satisfyingly deep sleep. For more targeted use, though, use CBD oil as part of a post-workout massage, rubbing it into the affected area to combat pain and fatigue.
A 2010 study by Dr Lee Berk of Loma Linda University suggested that laughing regularly is as beneficial as exercise. While the theory faced plenty of criticism at the time, there’s no denying that laughter is good for you. It helps to reduce stress, boosts your immune system and actually burns calories, given that it works your stomach, back and facial muscles in ways few exercises can. It might be the last thing you want to do after a workout, but according to American medical non-profit Mayo Clinic, it’s one of the best ways to aid recovery. It stimulates blood circulation and increases the intake of oxygen-rich air and endorphin production, making you feel better even when you’re knackered. It aids muscle relaxation, too, reducing the physical stress you’ve just put your body through.
5. Drink chocolate milk
Many regular gym-goers swear by their creatine protein shakes, but according to some scientists, chocolate milk is just as effective for post-exercise recovery. And that’s a good thing. It tastes great, is easy to pick up on the way home and is far less hassle than mixing up a shake of your own. Two separate clinical trials published by the National Library of Medicine concluded that chocolate milk is an effective recovery aid thanks to the balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fat and electrolytes it contains. While it might not be advisable to drink every day, a glass of the good stuff is a post-workout treat that performs as well as it tastes.
6. Eat what you want
If you want to feel bad about yourself, spend an hour scouring through a health and fitness website. You’ll quickly discover why your diet isn’t good enough, how you’re regularly consuming the “wrong” carbs and why you need to start waking up at 4am every day in order to be productive. Combine that with a scroll on Instagram or TikTok and you’ll find a perfectly sculpted army posting gym selfies and recipes consisting of nothing but grains and flax seeds. But you’ve just been sweating it out in the gym. Surely the physical punishment ended the moment you left its unmanned doors? Well it should, and that’s why following a workout you should (occasionally) eat exactly what you want. Fancy a massive bowl of creamy, parmesan-laden pasta? Go for it. Been craving a home-made beef burger? Sure. It might not always aid muscle repair or reduce stress, but indulging once in a while acts as a reward and can help boost your mental wellbeing. Think of it as a dose of culinary self-care.
7. Relax in Wellwear’s Restore range
A key component of our collection is to offer clothing that aids well-being. And that’s exactly what we’ve done with the new Restore range. The three-garment line-up is made from an innovative mineral-infused fabric that boosts energy levels, while also repairing muscle damage following exercise. It does this by cleverly absorbing your body heat and then reflecting it back to you. This targeted heat soothes the muscles, increasing the flow of blood, nutrients and white blood cells around the body, which in turn boosts energy levels, muscle recovery and all-round comfort. Unlike other performance fabrics, this impressive tech is woven into its fibres so it can’t wash out, ensuring consistent post-workout recovery every time you put them on.
Our tips always add up to seven for the simple reason that it’s David’s lucky number