Working out feels good in the moment. You feel strong and energized. You feel like you can do anything. Queue the next morning when you can’t even move your legs. Did I just push myself too hard? Not necessarily, you did something much worst… you didn’t recover properly. If you don’t take the necessary steps to help your muscles recover, they’re gonna hate you the next day. Here are 7 things you can do to make sure your muscles feel good in the morning.
Workout in the morning
If you’re the type that likes to get your sweat on after hours, this is not going to be good news, but the truth of the matter is…your muscles will be a lot more limber by the end of the day when you work out in the morning. It isn’t hard to imagine why. When you are walking around and going about your daily activities, you increase circulation, thus healing your muscles. You’re giving your muscles the chance to loosen back up. If you went straight to bed after your workout, you might wake up all cramped and tight. Try switching up your workout routine if your schedule allows it and see if your muscles feel any better.
Foam rolling can do wonders for your muscles. Due to an increase in popularity, you can find foam rollers at most sporting good stores, yoga shops or any department store. Get the longest one possible so you can use it to release your back muscles. You can do this by aligning the roller lengthwise with your spine and clapping your arms together straight in front of you. Trust me, it feels so good. A foam roller is basically a slightly hard pool noodle that you can roll your muscles on to get the knots out. It’s a really good idea to do it right after your workout to get a head start on releasing things. When you’re rolling out and feel a spot that is especially sore and tight, completely relax the area and hold for 30 seconds until you feel a release. Once you start rolling, you’ll never want to stop.
Protein and Carbs
This is an obvious one. You need to refuel after your workout with some carbs and protein. A shake with protein powder and lots of bananas would be great, as well as some non-fat Greek yogurt which is actual a protein/carb hybrid. The protein helps the muscles to recover whereas the carbs feed the adrenal glands. When you exercise, you’re putting your body through stress. When you get some food in you, it kind of lets your body know “We’re good now, the emergency is over”.
Make it a religion to eat right after your workout even if it mean grabbing a protein bar from the store. It’s crucial for your muscle recovery process.
This is another “duh” moment, but people don’t stretch nearly as much as they should. You can’t just touch your toes a couple times and call it a day. You should be aiming to stretch for at least 5-10 minutes after every workout and when you pair that with foam rolling, you are golden.
Drink you electrolytes
Hydration is important when working out, mainly because you are losing all that sweat. I don’t think I have to tell you this because you are naturally thirsty anyway during and after your workout. But in this case it’s definitely a question of what kind of water you are drinking, not how much. You want to be drinking liquids that will actually “act” like water in your body. Drinking tap water is not good enough because it is full of toxins, heavy metals and is totally stripped of any kind of minerals which is another word for “electrolytes”. Drink coconut water, lemon water or green juice to get some minerals in you.
This is a bit of a weird one, but it works! Studies show that eating 1/3 of a watermelon after exercising can significantly reduce muscle soreness over a 24 hour period. Not only does watermelon help your muscles feel awesome, it is extremely hydrating. Why do you think they call it watermelon? Try blending up the flesh with some lime and mint. It’s a refreshing way to end a hot and sweaty workout.
Castor oil has been around for centuries. Kids used to have to take a spoonful of it every few weeks to evacuate their bowels of any possible parasites or bacteria back in the olden days. When you use castor oil externally, it encourages circulation to whatever area you rub it on. So if your muscles need some extra healing power, rub just a little bit of castor oil to where it feels tight and see if you feel a difference in the morning.
L-Glutamine is probably one of the most popular amino acids out there. If you are using a protein powder, chances are it ready contains L-Glutamine, but the real benefit is when you take it in large amounts. This is why you find L-Glutamine in huge tubs at health food stores or supplement shops. It has many special powers besides muscle recovery such as reversing IBS, boosting immunity and sucking toxins like MSG out of your brain. Not so sure about the last one, but you can be sure that regardless, you will experience some kind of benefit through taking L-Glutamine. You are best off buying a powder rather than capsules because you should be taking about a tablespoon per day. Just toss it into your smoothie and you’re good to go.
Applying heat and then cold immediately after can help speed up muscle recovery as well give you a little bit of a burst of energy. Apply a hot water bottle or heating pad for 30 seconds and then switch with an ice pack. This increases blood flow to the area you are applying the heat/cold to.