By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.”

― Lao Tzu

In a world where No Pain, No Gain is an unwritten rule of physical training, it can feel counterculture to slow down and do less. But if you are looking to optimize performance, avoid injury, or hit a personal record in your sport or fitness goals, science tells us that integrating consistent recovery and precovery practices into your training regimen is non-negotiable.

And while the world of muscle recovery overflows with expensive and sexy tools promising faster results and bigger gains, the good news is that a healthy and regenerative sore muscle recovery protocol comes down to the basics – sleep, hydration, nutrition, movement and breath. Whether you are an elite athlete, weekend warrior, yogi or occasional jogger – understanding the hows and whys of recovery is the surest path to longevity.

What is Muscle Recovery and Why is it Important?

When you exercise intensely, or restart an exercise program after a long break, your muscles and their interwoven fascial sheaths are damaged.  That muscular exertion causes microtraumas to your muscle cells, which your body interprets as a sign that more muscle strength is needed. So, it goes to work to repair itself, rebuilding the tissue to make it stronger. This natural biological process is called General Adaptation Syndrome. During GAS, protein synthesis occurs as the muscle fibers heal and become stronger, and nutrient-carrying fluid gets restored to the tissues as metabolic waste is removed.1, 2 

Why Am I Sore After a Workout?

The microtraumas in your muscles are a result of contractions and tissue vibrations when you exercise, which can also cause inflammation and fatigue. This soreness is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and is often felt twenty-four to seventy-two hours after intense exercise. It’s a natural part of General Adaptation Syndrome.1, 2, 3

Muscle recovery time can vary, but exercise-induced muscle tears usually heal within three days.1 Greg Reid, a multi-title bodybuilding champion and owner of Phyisque Connoiseur, says age is a key factor in length of recovery times. “When I was nineteen, my muscles typically recovered from a workout within forty-eight hours, depending on the intensity of the workout and quality of my food and sleep,” says Reid. “Now that I’m fifty-seven, recovery can take three to four days.” 

Maintaining a healthy and regenerative balance between the muscular microtraumas of exercise and the rebuilding that follows requires a strategic approach to the intensity and duration of training and recovery. Otherwise, you risk going from muscle building to muscle strain or injury.1, 3, 4

One of the best ways to strike this balance? Incorporate precovery habits into your program. Many of the typical post-training recovery techniques can and should be done before you exercise. It prepares your body for what is ahead by bringing blood flow to the tissues, increasing synovial fluid in the joints for greater ease of movement, and improving your awareness of where your body is in space (a concept known as proprioception).5 Precovery not only helps you move better and reduces the risk of injury; it also enhances and accelerates the muscle adaptation process after exercise.5 

How Can I Speed Up Muscle Recovery? 

While the body’s response to recovery practices can depend on many factors, including age, gender, fitness level, training regimen, timing, and more, you will reap the benefits of faster muscle adaptation and reduce the chances of injury by focusing on five key elements. 

  1. SLEEP

Sleep is one of the most important muscle recovery practices. Human growth hormone, a hormone that repairs injured tissue, is released during sleep as the body regenerates itself and prepares for the day ahead.5, 6, 7 A few nights of poor sleep affects insulin sensitivity, increases gut permeability, increases systemic inflammation, impairs immune function, alters anabolic hormones, causes food cravings, and results in cognitive impairment.8, 9

There are a number of things you can do to dramatically impact your quality of sleep, including reducing exposure to artificial light after sundown (limit tech time or, at minimum, invest in blue light filtering glasses); having consistent bedtimes and wake times, avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed, and keeping the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.5, 6, 7, 9

Sleep is so critical to recovery and precovery that professional sports organizations make it a formal part of athlete support programming. Neil Rampe, an Athletic Trainer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, says the team works with a sleep consultant and has a “quiet room” where players can catch up on their ZZZs. Daniel Guzman, the Lead Performance Coach for the Los Angeles Football Club tells us they have a nap room. And John Busing, former NFL player with the Cincinnati Bengals and NY Giants who now runs an NFL Combine training camp, says players must be off the phone by 10 p.m. and asleep by 11 p.m. They’re also encouraged to get eight to ten hours of sleep every night, with a one-hour midday nap after training.  

Bodybuilder Greg Reid says the amount of sleep necessary varies by person. Some people feel good on five hours of sleep, while others need ten hours to feel well rested. He suggests several different things to wind down before bed, including meditation, a calming breath practice, Epsom salt baths, white noise machines, or soft, spa-like music. “One of the biggest mistakes I see is people pushing themselves to get up early and workout when their body is telling them they need more rest,” says Reid. And while hydration during the day is key, Reid advises to resist drinking fluids one to two hours before bedtime to avoid disturbing the sleep cycle with a bathroom break. 

  1. HYDRATION

You have heard it so many times by now your eyes might glaze over, but there is a reason we are repeating it here. Healthy muscle recovery is unequivocally dependent on adequate hydration. 

Dehydration affects everything from blood clotting to saliva to sweat production, and it can negatively affect physical and mental performance by increasing cardiovascular strain.5, 6 Muscles, tendons, ligaments and your connective tissues need adequate hydration to stay supple and strong.

The players at John Busing’s NFL Combine training camp are instructed to drink half their body weight in ounces of water per day (for perspective, that’s about 9 eight oz. glasses of water for a 150 lb person). Players also weigh in and weigh out at the end of the day so their water loss can be monitored and replenished accordingly. They also use electrolyte tablets to replace lost sodium and potassium, since electrolytes impact so many essential processes in the body, including nerve impulses, muscle contractions, and the regulation of pH levels. 

Hydration is the number one thing that Athletic Trainer Neil Rampe focuses on with the Dodgers. They provide urine charts at the urinals to provide a base reference for the athletes so they see when they need to drink more water. 

When bodybuilder Greg Reid was training, he would drink one to four gallons of water per day, depending on where he was in his training cycle. He also considers fruits and vegetables a good source of hydration. 

And if you’ve seen people around the gym hydrating with chocolate milk, that’s because some research has shown it’s a good muscle recovery drink due to its low cost, accessibility, and beneficial ratio of carbs to protein.11

But think twice about booze. Despite the prevalence of beer tents at the end of many races, alcohol isn’t a good choice for hydration. The impact alcohol has on recovery and sport performance depends on many things, including the amount and timing of consumption. But it does appear to have the following negative effects that could impact recovery– it dehydrates the body, increases your cortisol/testosterone ratio, impairs heart rate recovery, affects postural control, diminishes sleep quality, reduces performance, and makes the workout feel harder.12, 13, 14

  1. NUTRITION

Nutrition science is notoriously contradictory, but we’ll keep this as simple and basic as we can. Let’s start with a few definitions: 

JARGON ALERT

Protein:  The primary function of protein is to build and repair body tissues and structures. It’s also involved in the synthesis of hormones, enzymes, and other regulatory peptides.1

Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the chief source of energy for all body functions and muscular exercise. They help regulate the digestion and utilization of protein and fat.1

Does protein help with muscle recovery?

Your body needs protein in order to build muscle, but in order to use that protein, the body also needs carbohydrates.1, 4, 15  Eating carbohydrates with protein after exercise can accelerate the recovery process because it helps your body absorb the protein and use it for muscle mass. Combining caffeine with carbohydrates can provide a similar benefit.15

What are the best foods for muscle recovery?

The best diet for good sore muscle recovery includes eating clean, whole, unprocessed foods including proteins, veggies, fruit, and seeds.6, 9 These should be accompanied by healthy fats such as grass-fed butter, raw nuts, olive oil, and avocado oil which are necessary for the proper functioning of the body, nervous system, and fascia. Eating whole foods and avoiding sugar and refined food helps decrease the inflammatory load on the body, enabling it to recover faster.6, 9

At the NFL Combine training camp, John Busing recommends 500-600 grams of carbs per day and .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. That means a 300-lb lineman would eat 240-260 grams of protein daily (for reference, an average chicken breast is about 3oz (84 grams with 21 grams of protein) so that’s about 12 chicken breasts). Players are encouraged to eat as many fruits and vegetables as they want and “eat the rainbow” to get all of their vitamins and micronutrients.

At the Los Angeles Football Club, Lead Performance Coach Daniel Guzman says players are provided with prepared meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner following a carb periodization protocol, meaning the carb level ramps up as game day approaches.  

Bodybuilder Greg Reid says it’s crucial to load before the workout and to reload with protein and carbs after its over. “If your body doesn’t have enough carbs in the system, recovery is almost impossible,” says Reid. If one of his clients is trying to add mass, he recommends 2 grams of protein per lean muscle mass, with a target of 1 to 1.5 grams for maintenance.  He gets much of his fruit and vegetable intake through juicing and smoothies, consuming thirty ounces of juice daily focusing on beets, parsley, kale, spinach, dandelion greens, celery, cucumber, green apple, and blueberries.

Best Supplements for Muscle Recovery

Optimally, your dietary needs would be met by a clean, whole foods diet.  Since that’s not always possible in today’s busy society, some people rely on supplements. But if you must do so, supplement wisely. Many supplements are contaminated with banned substances, and the industry is highly unregulated.16

To ensure quality and no contamination, the Dodgers use only supplements that are NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) sport tested and certified. CTOWN Crossfit owner and wellness coach R.E. Lewis also recommends pharmaceutical grade fish oil to his clients (including professional athletes) to decrease inflammation and promote brain health.  At the NFL Combine Training Camp, they supplement with high quality fish oil, glucosamine for joints, and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) joint support.

Bodybuilder Greg Reid uses BCAA (branch chained amino acids), L-glutamine, L-arginine, magnesium, and vitamin C for recovery.

Best Anti-inflammatories for Muscle Recovery

Do you reach for your favorite NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like aspirin or ibuprofen when you are recovering from a workout? You may want to re-think that reflex to reach for the pill. While some research suggests that usage of anti-inflammatories can enhance muscle mass and performance, other studies indicate that long term NSAID use could be detrimental.4, 17, 18, 19, 20  Inflammation is a necessary step in the healing process, so anti-inflammatories, in the form of NSAIDs or even supplements such as fish oil, may reduce muscle gains.4

Many variables come into play when deciding if taking NSAIDs is the right choice for you, including training levels, goals, and frequency of usage. Neil Rampe of the Los Angeles Dodgers points out that professional baseball players play 162 games in 180 days. What’s asked of their bodies is not natural, so players need to make the personal choice whether or not to use NSAIDs.  The players are encouraged to use fish oil instead of NSAIDs.

At the NFL Combine training camp, the goal is to avoid NSAIDS. If players feel the need to use an NSAID, the root issue is investigated and addressed, preferring to use NSAIDs as a temporary band-aid. 

  1. MOVEMENT 

Warming Up with PreCovery Exercise

Warming up by doing a gentler or simpler version of your training exercise is an excellent precovery practice to prep the tissues and reduce the risk of injury.1, 4, 6  For example, if you plan on doing sprints, you can warm up by doing some high knees, hip circles, or a gentle jog.6

Likewise, making sure you have the basics under control before moving on to more complex and intense movements can help prevent injury. Before attempting to deadlift 200 pounds, make sure that you can squat with proper form first. Try lying on your back to see if your body can get into a yoga pose like Happy Baby.

At the NFL Combine training camp, John Busing says a dynamic warm-up could include mobility drills on the ground focusing on ankles and hips, moving to standing drills like legs swings, then on to dynamic movements like A-Skips, B-Skips, and butt kicks. The movements progress from simple to complex, increasing the heart rate and blood flow to prepare the body for movement.

As bodybuilder Greg Reid has gotten older, his warm-up can be longer than the workout itself.  A leg day warm-up might include gentle stretching, followed by jumping rope or elliptical training, culminating in mountain climbers. His goal is to increase the heart rate and get blood into the tissues, waking up the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints.

Postural and Movement Habit Awareness

How often do you sit with one leg crossed over each other? When you stand, do you always place all of your weight on one leg? What is your favorite sport? Is it tennis, golf, or volleyball? You are probably hitting the ball with the same hand and arm most of the time. How often do you rotate your body in the opposite direction? These repetitive movement patterns and postural habits are reflected in your body.1, 5, 21 Thanks to General Adaptation Syndrome outlined at the start of this story, your muscles, ligaments, and bones will adjust to these uneven stressors in an uneven way.

examples of common poor posture stances

To balance out the body and reduce the risk of injury, do more of what you are not doing.

If you sit a lot, get up and move around at least once every thirty minutes.21 If you habitually sit with one leg crossed over the other, prioritize putting the other leg on top with some frequency.5 If you participate in a sport that relies on one side of your body more than the other, release those hardworking muscles and strengthen the other side.

Active Recovery

Dr. Steven Capobianco, sports chiropractor and Sr. Director of Medical Education for RockTape, says the best way to mitigate DOMS is to keep moving. He’s a big proponent of following intense training days with Active Recovery (AR) exercises like walking, swimming, cycling, and yoga. “The sequential contraction and relaxation of tissues creates a pumping effect,” says Capobianco. “That minimizes the amount of swelling after training.” This can be done in intervals during your training, or on the following days.

When muscle fibers are damaged during exercise, it also affects the fascia, which is the connective tissue that surrounds and supports your muscles, joints, and tendons.  Performing these active recovery exercises after an intense workout helps reduce scar tissue, minimizing the chances of knots and reducing tightness.5

James Hawthorn is a Los Angeles-based personal trainer with nineteen marathons and ten triathlons under his belt, including two IRONMAN competitions. He suggests fifteen to twenty minutes of walking per day in the two days following an endurance event. He also makes it a practice of doing a static leg raise inversion after events, lying flat on his back with his legs against the wall to reduce lower body inflammation and aid in spinal decompression.

Stretching

RockTape’s Capobianco says the science is mixed on the benefits of stretching before a workout, so it’s important to make an individual decision and understand your goals.22, 23, 24 “If stretching feels good and gives you relief and allows you to move more, then do it,” says Capobianco. “If you don’t like stretching and it causes a stress response in your body, then don’t do it.”

“If stretching feels good and gives you relief and allows you to move more, then do it. If you don’t like stretching and it causes a stress response in your body, then don’t do it.” — Steven Capobianco, Sports Chiropractor & Sr. Director of Medical Education RockTape

Los Angeles Dodgers Athletic Trainer Neil Rampe says many players have joint laxity and are overstretched due to the demands of the sport, and these athletes need more activation, stability, and strength to manage range of motion. “There are many reasons a muscle could be long or short,” says Rampe. “It’s not about the length of the tissue; it’s about the quality of the tissue and quality of movement.” He uses E.L.D.O.A.s and myofascial stretches with his players, particularly the L5/S1 E.L.D.O.A. 

At the NFL Combine Training Camp, players do static stretching after a workout to address areas where they have asymmetries resulting from spending so much time with their bodies in the same position in the same place on the field.

At the Los Angeles Football Club, athletes do static stretching at least a full hour before exercising, and then more dynamic stretches closer to the activity to warm up the tissue and prepare it for movement.

JARGON ALERT

Static Stretching:  Sitting, standing, or lying in one position and holding a stretch without moving.

Dynamic Stretching: Active movements to warm up the tissue and prepare the muscles for training.

 

Self Myofascial Release (SMFR)

While massage is one of the most effective ways to minimize DOMS, amateur athletes and weekend warriors don’t always have the time or money to pay for this service.3, 5, 10 Fortunately there are affordable and portable tools like massage therapy balls and a spectrum of foam rollers designed for self myofascial release (SMFR), a form of self directed massage. SMFR also empowers athletes to take a more active role in their recovery. 

Sandy Gross, a Tune Up Fitness Teacher Trainer who works with high performance athletes at her Ohio based company, Move Well Cleveland, says it’s a competitive advantage to be able to take care of your own body. “For all players, it shows the coaches a level of maturity to be able to biomechanically tune yourself with smart movement prep and self myofascial mobilizations,” says Gross.

Massage and self-myofascial release promote muscle recovery in two important ways. First, It aids in the physiology of healing.3, 5, 10 And second, it taps into the nervous system to help athletes transition from a sympathetic state where the body is on alert and in a fight or flight state of exertion, to a relaxed, parasympathetic state that allows for health, growth, and restoration.5, 10  “There is great power in knowing how to do muscle recovery yourself and play an active role in your own healing,” says Sarah Howard, a Tune Up Fitness teacher and owner of Elite Mobility Training in Los Angeles.

Physiological Benefits of Self Myofascial Release

The physiological benefits of massage include improved blood and lymph flow, reduction of muscle oedema (swelling) and inflammatory markers, and improvements in whole body mobility, torque, and joint range of motion.3, 10 Massage also lowers perceived pain and fatigue, decreasing cortisol levels and increasing beta endorphins.3

Massage can help address the knots and trigger points that cause uneven wear and tear on the joints, increasing the risk of injury and decreasing performance.5, 10 SMFR can also be used to improve the tissues that have lost their ability to slide and glide across their neighbors.5, 10  When this happens, tissue perfusion decreases, nutrition can no longer get to the muscle, and waste products cannot be removed. This leads to inflammation and pain and nerve aggravation, which negatively affects performance.1

Nervous System Benefits of Self Myofascial Release

Doing SMFR with soft, therapeutic massage balls like those from Tune Up Fitness can escort your body from the state of arousal called sympathetic overload, to a state of parasympathetic dominance, in which your body relaxes and begins to rest and repair.5

JARGON ALERT!

Sympathetic:  The portion of the autonomic nervous system that prepares the body for arousal, action, and defense.  It is catabolic, meaning that it tears the body down, using the body’s energy for fuel and activation. You access it through thoracic and clavicular breathing.5

Parasympathetic:  The portion of the autonomic nervous system that governs rest, digestion, and regeneration.  It is anabolic, meaning that it builds up and repairs the body.  You access it through deep abdominal breathing.5

 

This transition from a nervous system in a heightened, sympathetic state to a more relaxed, parasympathetic state is critical to recovery. Soft tissue work is a component in the recovery plans of all of the professionals we interviewed.  Elite Mobility Training’s Sarah Howard says many players don’t realize that their bodies don’t automatically start recovering just because they stop training, “You have to help the body turn on the off switch,” says Howard. “It can be done quickly with self myofascial massage techniques like lying on the Tune Up Fitness Coregeous ball and focusing on your breath.” 

SMFR and Precovery

Self-myofascial release is an excellent precovery technique. It helps heat and lubricate the joints and connective tissues, stimulating blood flow to the target area.5, 10 It also improves proprioception (knowing where your body is in space), which enables the brain to move the body with more precise coordination and reduce the risk of injury.5

Tune Up Fitness teachers are experts at integrating precovery protocols into the schedules of the high performance high school, college, and professional athletes in their care. Sandy Gross of Move Well Cleveland has her players do “bus mobility” on the way to a game, where they do SMFR on the quadriceps, adductors, and hamstrings to warm up their tissues and improve proprioception, which helps them get their head in the game before it even begins.

Lauren Reese, a Tune Up Fitness Teacher Trainer and owner of breatheYOGA Atlanta instructs the athletes she works with to do short and sweet rollouts before their games, focusing on key areas like the feet, hips, and shoulders for thirty to sixty seconds to simulate fluid flow and enhance proprioception.

For football players, especially positions that require quick hips and speed, Howard recommends SMFR that addresses the quadriceps, glutes and groin. For the high school, college, and professional baseball pitchers she works with, she recommends they roll out the obliques, shoulders, and lower back.

Bodybuilder Greg Reid enjoys a “night before” roll-out where he does SMFR on the area of the body he will workout the next day. This improves circulation, prevents muscles from getting stiff, and enables the body to rest better. It all combines to produce better movement on his training day. 

  1. BREATH 

The body restores and rebuilds itself when it’s in a relaxed, parasympathetic state. However, many athletes and non-athletes alike live in a state of sympathetic dominance, ready to fight or flee at any moment. This releases hormones that tear down the body. In order to recover and rebuild, you must be able to shift your nervous system from high alert to rest. 

To fully access the power of the parasympathetic nervous system, you must set the stage with the five P’s:5

  • Perspective. Set a mantra or an affirmation such as, “I allow myself to relax completely.”
  • Place. Find a peaceful, quiet place. Dim the lights and close your eyes.
  • Pace of breath. Inhale to a count of four, pause for two counts, exhale to a count of six, and pause for two counts. Repeat several times, remembering to spend more time on the exhales than the inhales.
  • Position. Recline back or lay on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Elevate your hips slightly with a pillow or yoga block. In this mildly inverted position there is less structural stress on the diaphragm and heart, so everything can slow down.
  • Palpation. Self-massage with therapy balls helps decrease sympathetic outflow by altering resting tone of muscles & fascia. It boosts endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine. 

 

Breath is the key

When we are exercising in a sympathetic state, we typically get more air in our lungs by using our accessory muscles of respiration, including many of the neck and upper back muscles. This is exactly what we want to happen when we are in states of high physical exertion. However, when we are done exercising, we need to rebound back to a relaxed, parasympathetic state. This allows our neck and shoulder muscles to get a break, and we breathe predominantly with our diaphragm, a dome-shaped respiratory muscle tucked under our lower six ribs.  When we inhale, the diaphragm descends into our abdominal cavity and stimulates the vagus nerve, helping us enter that parasympathetic state where our body can rest, digest and rebuild.

Breathing through the nostrils is important for performance and recovery. When we breathe through our nostrils, the air coming in to our bodies is warmed, cleansed and humidified. Nasal breathing also taps into the nitric oxide reserves in our nasal sinuses. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, so it improves blood flow and the overall health of our cardiovascular system, assisting with muscle recovery.25 Nasal breathing also slows down the breath, keeping oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in check, ensuring there is enough oxygen in the blood to be delivered and released to the tissues.25

Breathwork is a crucial component of the recovery practices at the Dodgers.  “A baseball player’s nervous system doesn’t know the difference between going 0 for 4 with four strikeouts and getting chased by a lion or getting t-boned,” says Rampe. Breathwork is used to help move the players from this activated state to a more settled and relaxed mindset. The staff encourages players to do Postural Restoration Institute breathing exercises at the end of each day. At the Los Angeles Football Club, players do breathwork before bed to promote relaxation and improve the quality of sleep. 

What to Do for Sore Muscles After Workout

While Sleep, Nutrition, Hydration Breath and Movement are the foundation of a muscle recovery protocol,  here are some other tools you can experiment with after exercising to help decrease DOMs (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and facilitate muscle healing. 

Heat

Hot water immersion and other heat therapies such as saunas appear to be beneficial for recovery. 8, 26, 27  Saunas have been shown to improve cardiac function.27

Cold

Ice

For years, health care practitioners followed the R.I.C.E. protocol for injuries & inflammation:  Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Research is now showing that icing an injury can actually prevent healing.17, 28

The body’s natural healing response includes pain, swelling, and inflammation. Icing the tissue can delay this healing response by decreasing blood flow to and from the area, impacting the body’s ability to get nutrients to the damaged tissue and remove waste products from the area.17, 28  Ice can also blunt pain signals, which then no longer prevent you from doing too much after an injury, and increase the risk of re-injuring the tissue.17, 28

For a deeper description of why icing is no longer recommended, check out this article from Dr. Gabe Mirkin, the developer of the original R.I.C.E. protocol.

Cryotherapy

Whole body cryotherapy involves exposing the body to very cold temperatures in a cold chamber, or cryo-cabin. This protocol has been shown to decrease DOMS and improve muscle fatigue, pain and wellbeing, but the effects are dependent on several variables, such as method used, temperature, number of treatments, and timing of treatments.3, 29

Cold Water Immersion

Cold Water Immersion (CWI) can help decrease DOMS. It reduces inflammation, swelling, and pain sensations, and the hydrostatic pressure may help escort fluids from the muscle, into the blood, eliminating metabolites.3  Results may vary based on timing and temperature. Exposure of eleven to fifteen degrees (and perhaps less than five degrees), over eleven to fifteen minutes, submersed up to the neck appears to be a beneficial protocol.3, 29

Heat and Cold: Contrast Water Therapy

Contrast Water Therapy consists of bathing alternately in warm water and cold water.  By inducing vasoconstriction and vasodilation, contrast water therapy can reduce swelling and influence inflammatory pathways, resulting in a decrease in DOMS, lower perception of pain, and reduced muscle strength loss.3

Compression Garments

Wearing a whole-body compression garment after intense training can have a positive impact on DOMS and perceived fatigue by reducing the space available for swelling and diminishing fluid diffusion into the interstitial space, improving the rate of blood flow back to the heart. 3

Making Muscle Recovery Practices Work for You

Just as professionals like Neil Rampe at the Los Angeles Dodgers, Daniel Guzman at the Los Angeles Football Club, Sarah Howard at Elite Mobility Training, and others you’ve heard from throughout this story customize muscle recovery programs to the needs of their athletes, you can empower yourself to design recovery and precovery protocols that work for you. 

Experiment with more hydration throughout your day; see if a tech cut-off time in the evening impacts your sleep; roll your feet on a Tune Up Fitness therapy ball before you go for a run. And most importantly, tune in to the signals your body is sending you as you incorporate these new habits into your life. 

Make a plan for the week by scheduling rollout times before a workout and incorporating a short breath practice before bed. Take it one step further and consider keeping an old-school journal or jot down notes in your phone to track how these protocols are impacting your soreness and perceived fatigue, then adjust accordingly. 

Be a student of your body. There’s nobody more suited for the job. 

 

References

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  23. Herbert RD, Noronha MD, Kamper SJ. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. June 2011. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd004577.pub3.
  24. Xie Y, Feng B, Chen K, Andersen LL, Page P, Wang Y. The Efficacy of Dynamic Contract-Relax Stretching on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness Among Healthy Individuals. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. 2018;28(1):28-36. doi:10.1097/jsm.0000000000000442.
  25. McKeown P. Oxygen Advantage. Little, Brown Book Group; 2015.
  26. Petrofsky JS, Khowailed IA, Lee H, et al. Cold Vs. Heat After Exercise—Is There a Clear Winner for Muscle Soreness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2015;29(11):3245-3252. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000001127.
  27. Haseba S, Sakakima H, Kubozono T, Nakao S, Ikeda S. Combined effects of repeated sauna therapy and exercise training on cardiac function and physical activity in patients with chronic heart failure. Disability and Rehabilitation. 2015;38(5):409-415. doi:10.3109/09638288.2015.1044032.
  28. Mirkin G, Mirkin G. Dr. Gabe Mirkin. Dr Gabe Mirkin on Health. https://www.drmirkin.com/fitness/why-ice-delays-recovery.html. Published September 16, 2015. Accessed January 29, 2020.
  29. Blanca, Va. Ep 241 – Exercise addiction, muscle soreness myths, Cryotherapy and breathing science with Dr Andy Galpin. The Mind Muscle Project. https://themindmuscleproject.com/episodes/ep-241-exercise-addiction-muscle-soreness-myths-cryotherapy-and-breathing-science-with-dr-andy-galpin. Published May 5, 2019. Accessed January 12, 2020.

Heather is fascinated with the human body and loves to share that fascination with her yoga students and neurosomatic therapy patients. She weaves her mind/body/spirit studies and knowledge into each of her sessions. This leaves her patients and students with reduced pain, an enhanced body map, and tools to empower continued self-healing. Learn more about heather at: tuneupfitness.com/teacher/heather-longoria

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Cynthia Racine

It is very interesting to read about the muscle recovery routines of professional sports like baseball. I loved to get a sneak peek into their world.

Veronique Fortin

Thanks !
I am taking good notes of the this new expression I learned today :
Postural and Movement Habit Awareness and planning to do more research on the topic.

Patricia Boudreault

I really find your article relevant and more than comlete! Thankn you so much for all the videos and exemples of workout and other materials to guide us!

Amélie Savard

There are good ideas in this text, thank you! I really like the precovery exercise! The videos are also very relevant!

Yiman Xiao

Thank you for all the information. It is very useful to have all the suggestion. I have a small question that I am a little bit confused by the method of massage. My coach told me that it is better to wait a while (around 48 hours) before the massage when having the sore muscles after training because that the muscles and the interwoven fascial sheaths are slightly damaged. The massage can expand the wound. I do not know if you have any comments on this. Thank you!

Poirsha

Wow, very thorough article! The information is so pertinent since I have been conducting warm ups for a High School track team! It is good to know that my sequencing is spot on.

Julia Skinner

Great article, I love that you included in depth information and videos to go along with different types of workouts and recovery or precovery.

Virginia Corpus-McDermott

One of my favourite articles written on this blog. It’s thoughtful, well-rounded, well-researched, and is well written. Best tip you’ve mentioned – sleep! Makes so much sense but is the least practiced.
Thank you!

Kara Stafford

This article is excellent and a great resource on the whys and hows of pre and recovery. It inspires me to rethink how I prepare my yoga students to move in class. Thank you for bringing to light more intelligent and sustainable ways to bring movement longevity into our daily activities!

Rosalynn (Roz) Adams

This blog is a keeper. So much great information.I will be reading this one over and over again.

Cammy Adair

Watched “Flip your Deadlift.” Very interesting, helping me to understand the agonist/antagonist relationship and how you can use it to improve performance.

Veronica Costa-Bolton

Thorough and well rounded discussion on a person’s ability to manifest the best possible outcomes from a workout routine or sports involvement. The discussion on “precovery” was well founded as well as the need for parasympathetic engagement post recovery. Excellent advice for anyone with a body!

Cammy Adair

Wow, what a complete discussion on muscle soreness! Sending this to my track and field son, answers pretty much all his questions.

PJ Olsen

I love the variety of tips and tools provided along with all of the backup research in this article. I especially enjoyed the section on precovery using SMFR. I have used that protocol with a handful of private clients, but will now start making it part of the warmup routine with those who attend my kettlebell classes. I’m excited to see how their lifting might improve as a result!

sheila ewers

The older I get, the more I understand the importance of recovery, but I LOVE this concept of PREcovery…prevention is always the best medicine.

Priscilla Daniel

Great discussion on these very important topics. No matter fitness level it’s areas we all need to focus on.

MISSY TILLMAN

I am very thankful to YTU and the Roll Model for its aids in precovery and recovery for dancers. It gives them excellent tools to prep and recover from class and hours of training everyday. We talk about the same content of this statement often: “It prepares your body for what is ahead by bringing blood flow to the tissues, increasing synovial fluid in the joints for greater ease of movement, and improving your awareness of where your body is in space (a concept known as proprioception).”

Alene K. Baronian

Hi Heather, Loved your thorough article. Useful information about muscle recovery. However, you have an error in your nutrition section. “That means a 300-lb lineman would eat 240-260 grams of protein daily (for reference, an average chicken breast is about 3oz (84 grams) so that’s about 3 chicken breasts). You reference a chicken breast to be 84g, that would be it’s typical weight, not the amount of protein the chicken breast has. 3 oz chicken breast has around 21g of protein (7g per ounce). So in reality, the lineman’s would need to eat 12 – 3 oz chicken breasts to… Read more »

Tune Up Fitness

Alene, thank you for helping to clarify this. We’ll make the update within the article.

Kevin

Hi, I enjoyed your article on Muscle Recovery but I have a question. One item that you mentioned as a contributor to muscle soreness was tissue vibration. Two factors you left out of your recovery options was vibration and percussion. I see foam rollers with vibration and percussion “guns” marketed as recovery tools. Since you mention tissue vibration as a cause for sore muscles could you address vibration and also percussion as a recovery vehicle. Thank You

Heather Longoria

Hi Kevin – Thanks for the comment! I don’t have personal experience with these kinds of tools in my bodywork practice, but I found some articles on the subject that might answer your questions.

https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a27007501/massage-guns-recovery-warmup/
https://simplifaster.com/articles/vibration-therapy/

And this research article:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4763833/

Hope that helps!