Aches, pains, soreness, tight muscles are all the unpleasant commonalities of working out, but it’s how you recover that really make the difference.  Long hard runs, bicycling, or any other intense activity can be hard on the body and muscle, which is why it is really important to stretch and relax the muscles after exercising.  By taking time to stretch and soothe the muscles after your workouts, it will allows you to recover much faster, than not doing anything at all, yet many people never do it and suffer the consequences.

Icing and massage are two ways runners can help themselves bounce back from tough runs and ensure they are ready to hit the trail again the next day.  Other methods for recovery suggested by Josh Stradle, owner of AllSports Recovery Club in Colorado include investing in compression socks to help lessen the swelling and soreness caused from metabolic waste that builds in your feet after workouts.  Also one of my favorites massage sticks or foam rollers are a runners best friend and are great for massaging all areas of the body for a deep tissue massage.  You can even use a good old tennis ball and massage the areas that feel the tightest and then lie directly on the roller and move all around the break up tight muscle fibers.  The movement over the ball stimulates circulation and causes oxygen blood to flow to those areas and allow damaged tissue to recover faster.  To improve the recovery process even faster, studies have shown by that by using a device with vibration after workouts helped lessen the duration of soreness. There are tons of expensive massages on the market, but to save money Stradle suggests going to Home Depot and buying a Ryobi six inch car buffer for $25 that does the same thing.

Another great recovery method is opting to take a yoga class instead of stretching.  By doing more dynamic stretching over static stretching, it provides more benefits by engaging certain muscles while stretching others – not to mention yoga is a great stress reliever as well.

Treat yourself to a tasty protein shake. There are tons of flavored varieties of protein powders with whey, soy, and other nutrients that are great for refueling your body after workouts. After a run you typically have a 30 minute window to shut down the stress responses of exercise, including cortisol the hormone that inhibits muscle repair.  To help facilitate muscle replenishment ingesting proteins and carbohydrates through a protein shake is a great way to replenish muscles and get a tasty mixed drink in your favorite flavor.  Don’t forget to continue to hydrate the body as well for at least three hours after workouts.

You can’t forget sleep.  The more you snooze the more your muscles will repair themselves. Ideally you should shoot for seven to eight hours of sleep for recovery. Sleep deprivation can have a profound effect not only on muscle recovery, but weight loss as well, so don’t miss out on good shut eye every night.