5 Post-Exercise Rest And Recovery Techniques You Should Try

·5-min read
PHOTO: Evolve MMA
PHOTO: Evolve MMA

When you’re firing on all cylinders, it’s kind of hard to pull back. Only after an intense workout, when the joints flare up and you get those muscle pains, do you realize just how hard you went. Of course, that’s the way we always want to work out.

But what many people fail to realize is that what you do after an intense workout is equally as important. Post-workout rest and recovery plays a major role in how well you can maximise your gains. In fact, if you don’t rest your body properly, an intense workout can actually be damaging.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a real problem, and is more intensely felt 24-72 hours after a hard workout. Most people take one or two rest days in a week, where they recover and rejuvenate their bodies. But there’s a way to take rest to the next level.

Thankfully, there are ways to speed up muscle recovery and optimise physical functionality. These practices primarily operate on the principle that using various methods to eliminate muscle inflammation should speed up the muscle rebuilding process.

There are a lot of old and new methods out there, so if you’re looking for ideas on how to treat your body after an intense workout session, then you’ve come to the right place.

Today, Evolve Daily shares five effective rest and recovery techniques after a hard workout.

1) Cryotherapy

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Cryotherapy literally means “cold treatment”, and it refers to any form of treatment that involves the application of extremely low temperatures. By that definition, the cryotherapy umbrella technically includes ice packs, ice baths, and even a fun day of playing in the snow.

Muscle recovery is only one of the purported benefits of this method, with some others being reduced inflammation, pain relief, and increased flexibility. All of these are legitimate and science-backed.

Ice packs and ice baths have been used to treat inflammation for at least decades, and they help reduce pain by numbing the nerve endings as well. Full-body cryo freezes the extremities and redirects blood flow to the core, and the rebound circulation that occurs as you step out of the tub or the chamber is believed to deliver nutrient-rich blood to your extremities, providing them the much-needed resources to repair and rebuild.

2) Melatonin and its effects on recovery

Much of physical growth and recovery occurs when we are sleeping, so it makes perfect sense that melatonin aids in muscle recovery. The association between melatonin and recovery is bridged by sleep, but recent studies have come to discover that melatonin’s effectiveness in aiding muscle recovery might be due to more than just its sleep-inducing effects.

In an experimental study, athletes who took 10mg of melatonin after an intense evening workout session slept for 25 minutes longer than the control group. In further exploration, they found that the same athletes significantly exceeded their own performance metrics the following day.

The mechanism behind this effect is still unclear, and it is contraindicated in some individuals with medical conditions. In every other case, taking melatonin is relatively harmless. Give it a try and see how it works for you, but make sure to consult your physician if you plan to use it regularly.

3) Massages and Percussion Therapy

A full-body massage after a long week of hard training is a blissful experience. You can feel the aches and pains literally fade away. It is recommended for physically active individuals to get regular massages as frequently as once a week, and even more for those involved in high-intensity activities. Unfortunately, trips to the spa can be quite expensive, making it impractical for many.

This is where massage guns come in handy. Quite recently, massage guns have become all the rage, promising the convenient and quick benefits of percussion therapy.

Percussive massage guns provide short bursts of pressure into the body tissues, loosening up knots that cause aches and pains. It numbs the surrounding area while targeting the deep muscles that hands and foam rollers do not reach, gaining the benefits of deep tissue massages without the associated pain.

4) Floatation Therapy

As the name implies, this is a method that involves floating the body to achieve the treatment’s therapeutic results. Frankly, it’s like something straight out of a sci-fi movie.

Also called Zero Gravity Therapy or Sensory Deprivation Therapy, a person is placed inside a tiny, soundproof, and pitch-black room with a pool of body-temperature water for up to an hour. The water is saturated with approximately 1,000 lbs worth of Epsom salts, making it dense enough for the human body to float effortlessly.

Reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera is an advocate of floatation therapy, and regularly uses it to relieve his physical and mental stresses after a long day of training.

Being suspended and deprived of all sensation allows a person to tune into their thoughts and eliminates all strain from the muscles. Research has also found that floatation therapy markedly reduces blood pressure, heart rate, and chronic pain. To top it all off, the Epsom salts make your skin silky smooth, leaving you with a clearer mind, a lighter body, and smoother skin after each session.

5) Do what you love

After all is said and done, the best way to rest is still to take a day off and enjoy doing what you love. Prop your feet up and get some Netflix on, or hook up your PS5 and immerse yourself in the world of video games.

Rest days are not just meant for physical health, but mental health as well. It is your time to unwind from all of life’s pressures, so spending them on the things you enjoy best will be a good mental break from training.

Don’t guilt-trip yourself or let anyone tell you that you don’t deserve it. Life is short, so enjoy it to the fullest by doing what you want to do with your free time. The mental relaxation this brings will rejuvenate your mind and help you go harder in your next workout.

This article, "5 Post-Exercise Rest And Recovery Techniques You Should Try", originally appeared on Evolve MMA, Asia’s No. 1 martial arts organisation.