What is the Best Way to Relax After Working Out?
What to Do After A Workout
The music is pumping, the muscles are tight, the adrenaline is racing throughout the body. And the workout is done. The worse thing a person can do after a workout is crash or become stagnant. The body needs to be cooled down slowly, if not all the hard work put into the workout will become a painful reminder for the next few hours, even days.
The most traditional form to relieve the pain in muscles post workout is foam rolling or stretching. Foam rolling is the process of applying pressure to specific points in the body to relieve the stress and strain on muscles. Essentially, allowing them to return to their normal state of elasticity and ready to function normally. This can be a painful process for some people but to get the most out of the process, 5 to 15 minutes is recommended. Good old fashion stretching is another option.
One form of relaxation that many athletes utilize is water immersion. By soaking in either an ice bath or hot bath, muscle soreness may be reduced, and loss of performance is limited (bustle.com). For the ice bath, immerse the body to the shoulders at temperatures of 8 to 15 degrees Celsius or 46 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit for about 5 to 15 minutes. Another option is to alternate between the ice bath and hot water after one to four minutes. The hot water should not exceed 42 degrees Celsius or 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
As mentioned above, the worse thing a person can do post workout is become stagnant. As attractive as it is, it is very harmful to the body. A good way to cool the body down is low impact cardio. An easy jog helps to ease the body into slowing down and becoming loose. Movement at a pace that allows a person to hold a conversation is all that is needed, nothing intense.
If an ice bath is the last thing on the list of ways to relax, try heat. A sauna or hot tub is a great way to relax muscles. A sauna uses dry heat to relax the muscles and eliminate lactic acid (bullfrogspas.com). A little unknown added benefit to using heat is it also can burn a little fat. With the hot tub, the muscles may be relaxed faster than with a sauna since it is using moist heat. With the jets in a hot tub, the muscles are targeted at key points to alleviate stress and muscle strain in the back, neck, and legs. This helps to lower the time it takes to relax post workout.
A very common form of relaxation is getting a massage. The idea is to target the muscles that have been a focus during the workout. A massage is a great way to release the tension and tightness in those muscles. Aside from relieving muscle tightness, massages are also known to alleviate anxiety, aid in sleeping and has been found to increase alertness.
Food and Water
It goes without saying that water is very important for survival. However, during a workout and after a workout it is important to stay hydrated. The body is sweating and eliminating toxins from the body with that sweat, so it is important to give it something to sweat out with those toxins. As for food, foods high in protein are important. Though the best form of protein would be casein protein to aid in relieving soreness in muscles. While whey protein is best used to build muscles, casein protein aids in lowering blood pressure and reducing the formation of blood clots. Both are very important for the body but are two very different forms of protein (healthline.com).
If the need to crash on the couch rather than walking it off is too demanding, consider meditation. The focus in mediation is breathing, much like yoga. Find a relaxing environment and get into a comfortable position. Take in deep breaths through the nose and hold it for a few moments. Release the breath through the mouth slowly. Meditation has been proven time and time again to aid in increasing the nervous system activity such as rest, digestion and recovery. It also aids in decreasing the flight or fight desire, allowing the body to relax.
Post workout cool down is just as important as the workout itself. Make sure muscles are getting the attention they need to return to their elastic state. Otherwise sore muscles and a painful body will be the reward of all that hard work.
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