Proper rest and recovery is often overlooked, but if you want to reap the full benefits of your workouts, you must prioritize recovery. When you recover, your body is fixing the damage that came from an intense workout.
Sleep is the most effective recovery tool we possess. Getting enough sleep is imperative for muscular recovery, mental health, hormonal balance, and general well being. Seven to ten hours is the optimal range for most athletes. During sleep, the body undergoes many important processes, like repairing muscle and other tissues, and replacing aging or dead cells. Two particularly important recovery processes are the production of growth hormone and the occurrence of protein synthesis (as long as protein is consumed before bed—more on that later).
Since we know that sleep is imperative to proper recovery, let's discuss how we can optimize it. First, try to get to bed early. Hours slept before midnight are proven to be more effective than those slept after. Waking up with the sun is also ideal. Try to stop using electronics at least an hour before bed and limit the use of artificial light. There is a helpful iPhone setting called “Night Shift” that can be enabled. After dark, it automatically shifts the display colors to the warmer end of the color spectrum, which can improve your night’s sleep. Finally, make sure to control the room temperature. In most cases, temperatures above 75 and below 54 degrees will disrupt sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, many sleep experts say that a cool room, somewhere around 65 degrees, makes for the best sleep, and research backs this notion. Daytime naps are also your friend. Research suggests taking a nap approximately two hours after a workout helps the body enter deep, restorative states of sleep.
If you’ve ever drank too much alcohol after an intense workout or deep tissue massage, you know exactly how much dehydration can affect recovery. In fact, studies suggest that more than just one or two post-workout drinks can reduce the body’s ability to recover. Not hydrating enough before and after exercise is a surefire way to worsen muscle soreness and extend your recovery time. Research shows that exercising while dehydrated can reduce the body’s ability to repair itself and cause greater damage to muscles.
Since we’re not usually giving our body nutrients while we sleep, having a light protein snack before bed is beneficial in helping our muscles repair overnight. As explained in this article, sleeping for 8-10 hours per night is similar to fasting and this is catabolic to muscle growth. However, eating just prior to sleeping can help to reverse this process and increase protein synthesis. Protein synthesis does occur under conditions of sleep but it occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, not the muscles. Muscle is actually broken down under these conditions to provide our stomach with amino acids during this time of starvation. Eating before bed is crucial in offsetting this.
After waking up from what should have been a great night’s sleep, eat a high-protein breakfast. High-protein breakfasts not only supply our muscles with the necessary nutrition to start rebuilding, but studies suggest they reduce calorie intake later in the day. They improve the levels of your appetite-regulating hormones, leading to reduced hunger and cravings.
Consuming a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein either before and/or after a workout may help reduce the severity of muscle soreness. Protein provides the necessary amino acids, the building blocks of tissue, to give our bodies what they need to rebuild and maintain the muscles damaged during exercise. Having a little pre-workout protein can trigger our bodies to start muscle synthesis (repairing and building more muscle) during and even after hitting the weights. However, post-workout protein is still important for continuing to provide the body with the fuel it needs to keep rebuilding.
Tart Cherry Juice
Tart Cherry Juice may help reduce the swelling that occurs when muscles are damaged, allowing our bodies to recover faster while experiencing less pain and soreness. Tart cherry juice can also make your EnduraQ more effective. Taking EnduraQ in conjunction with other flavonoids and antioxidants helps your body absorb and utilize the nutrients more readily. Tart cherry juice is especially high in anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid with strong antioxidant activity demonstrated in both test tube and double-blind human studies. These and other flavonoids found in tart cherries have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in test tube and animal studies.
Foam Rolling & Massage
Much of the soreness that goes along with exercise occurs when our muscles and fascia become knotted. Self-myofascial release, or rolling out the muscles with foam rollers (or PVC pipes if you require something stronger), can help remove those knots and prevent muscle imbalances. Massage, like foam rolling, helps break up scar tissue and reduce stiffness associated with muscle repair. Adding stretching to your regimen will also relieve muscular tension and potentially downplay the soreness you experience later.
Recent research suggests wearing compression garments can help decrease soreness. Compression garments have also been shown to decrease the time it takes for muscles to recover between intense bouts of exercise.
EnduraQ has been shown to help muscles recover faster from a workout by promoting the body’s natural ability to manage inflammation. Increase your performance and decrease your recovery time. EnduraQ users have reported faster recovery times and little to no post-workout soreness. Jordan Jakubov, former pitcher for the University of Kansas baseball team, says “EnduraQ keeps me feeling strong, never sluggish and run down, even after my most intense workouts. I’ve been able to exercise longer and harder, despite my college baseball injuries, and I can actually see results. It’s great to see muscle gains without having all my usual aches and pains.” Undefeated pro boxer Jonathan Steele says he is now “able to train harder in the weight room and not worry about overtraining or muscle fatigue.”
Try these tips and EnduraQ today to optimize your post-workout recovery!