Looking for muscle recovery tips after a tough workout? If you have sore muscles and want to help your body recover faster, here are seven natural things to try. Please note: This post contains affiliate links.
When you’ve started a new fitness routine, it can be easy to go a little overboard. Even those who work out consistently can get caught going too hard with workouts. The point is that muscle soreness is common no matter where you are on your fitness journey.
If you overwork your muscles and experience extreme soreness, it can be a major setback. It can be discouraging mentally, or simply hold you back physically. Again, no matter where you are on your fitness journey, this can be frustrating. So sore muscle recovery is essential!
The Importance of Recovery
If you don’t allow your body to recover in between workouts, you’re more susceptible to injury. You’re also more likely to quit your workout routine entirely after being discouraged by the physical pain you feel. Because of this, it’s extremely important to let your body heal between workouts.
There are many supplements out there that claim to help athletes with sore muscle recovery, but they aren’t always safe and they aren’t meant for everyone. (You should always consult a doctor before opting for new supplements!) Natural muscle recovery tips are important for everyone, but learning natural muscle recovery tips might be especially important for:
- Pregnant women
- Breastfeeding mothers
- Anyone with any type of heart condition
- People with other conditions
Important to Note
While natural is usually best, it’s not right for every situation. I am not a doctor and though I share my opinions here, you should always check with your doctor before making any big dietary changes. I am a personal trainer and I can help you with fitness-related stuff but don’t forget that my help can only go so far. 🙂 Ultimately, educating yourself on what’s best for you is up to YOU. Therefore, try my natural muscle recovery tips at your own risk!
Listening to Your Body
You already know that simply allowing your body to rest will help you recover after a tough workout. Plus, it feels great when you rub your sore muscles. These are “no-brainers” because you’ve grown used to doing these things over time. But there are definitely other things you can do to help your body along when it comes to recovery. Take a look and keep them in mind as part of your fitness routine.
Related Reading: Foam Rolling 101 – Tips & Techniques
1. Try Epsom Salts with a Hot Bath
If you haven’t already been soaking in epsom salts from time to time, you’re really missing out. The idea behind epsom salts is that the magnesium sulfate might be associated with relaxation of muscles. Research is limited on the use of epsom salts, but the bath itself can help you relax. (My favorite are lavender or eucalyptus infused salts!) The aromatherapy along with the heat of a hot bath is really where it’s at! The heat of the bath is what’s most important – your muscles can loosen up and release tension. (It’s the same idea as when you warm up for a workout.) Plus it just feels great!
2. Ice It
Ice therapy is a big thing in the fitness industry and in a lot of sports circles. That’s because cooling your muscles down reduces swelling by physically inhibiting blood flow. Then, when you’re done with icing, fresh blood is allowed to return to your muscles with less lactic acid and therefore jumpstarts your recovery. If anything, icing your sore muscles can feel good and help with circulation if done thoughtfully. It’s worth a try since this is such a low-cost natural option. Most professionals recommend icing a sore area for about twenty minutes, then allowing muscles to return to body temperature and repeating a few times depending on swelling. They make ice packs for different body parts, so it might be smart to invest in one made specifically for your chronic pain areas. Here’s one made specifically to fit on your shoulders.
3. Foam Roll
Foam rolling is a discovery I just made a few years ago, and it’s still new to many people. I learned quite a bit about foam rolling during my personal training certification, and I think it’s really important. In short, it’s a form of self-massage that can be really beneficial for muscle recovery. If you’re new to the idea, be sure to check out this article that explains the basics of foam rolling and gives you a scientific explanation of it’s benefits. Otherwise, if you’re ready to give it a try, be sure to invest in an affordable roller to keep at home. Here’s the one I use.
Most of us aren’t stretching enough, and when we do, we don’t hold stretches for long enough. (30+ seconds per stretch!) It’s also important to know what to stretch for different issues. For the most part, you can listen to your body and it’s pretty obvious what you need to stretch – but don’t neglect small muscle groups. Also, don’t think that just because you don’t feel soreness doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from stretching every day. Stretch on the floor, in bed, on your yoga mat, or standing up!
5. Try Tea
If you don’t already drink tea, it might seem odd to think that tea could help you with muscle recovery. But herbs have been used for many ailments for centuries, and some herbal teas can help your body relax and heal more naturally than things like over-the-counter medicines and relaxants. (Those babies are hard on the liver!) You can keep it simple by opting for calming teas (like lavender and chamomile) or you can go a step further and seek out different herbs known to aid muscle recovery. Not a tea drinker? Try balms, salves, or essential oils!
6. Sleep Like a Champ
It might seem obvious, but we could all probably stand to improve our quality of sleep. Try taking a hot shower before bed and keeping your eyes away from screens for an hour before hitting the hay. Research shows that having our eyes in front of screens with blue light (phones, tablets, etc.) can keep our brains extremely active for up to an hour after removing the screens from sight. That means that if you check your phone right before bed, your brain waves are still going crazy up to an hour later. Try something relaxing but not visually stimulating (reading?) instead. And make sure to do whatever else you need to do for restful sleep (i.e. darken your room). This article has some important information about sleep and recovery.
7. Muscle Recovery Foods
It’s true that some foods contain vitamins and minerals that can help your body recover. (You’ve probably heard that bananas are good for sore muscles – it’s true!) Choose muscle recovery foods that are high in potassium (enter banana theory!) and that possess other anti-inflammatory properties. Some suggestions are nuts, salmon, pineapple, ginger, and blueberries. Basically, the healthy stuff is going to help you in more ways than one – so go for it!
What about muscle recovery supplements?
There are plenty of muscle recovery supplements out there. Specifically, BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) are known to help muscles rebuild more quickly. However, most muscle recovery supplements contain unnatural ingredients. That being said, it’s important to choose a high-quality supplement for sore muscle recovery.
While I am not huge on supplement use, when I do use nutrition products, I almost always opt for Supplement RX. They hold themselves to a higher standard (compared to what’s regulated) than most supplement companies – but definitely do your own research.
Do you have any other natural muscle recovery tips? Is there anything that you swear by? Tell me about them by leaving a comment below!