In order to improve, athletes must push themselves beyond their normal endurance and performance levels. The human body is capable of recovering and rebuilding following this kind of intense exercise, but it must have recovery time to do so. If you don’t give your body enough rest following an extreme workout, it cannot adapt, and you won’t be able to continue improving as a competitor.
In addition to getting plenty of sleep and downtime, there are certain tricks athletes swear by for speeding recovery and minimizing delayed onset muscle soreness. For instance, you’ve probably noticed plenty of athletes are now wearing CEP compression socks and Sigvaris Performance compression socks. We explain how this and other post-workout tricks work below. By following these tips, you can boost your performance and accelerate revitalization.
1. Listen to your body
The number-one rule for post-workout recovery is simply to be aware of how your body feels. Avoid judging yourself or writing off your experience to “wimpiness.” Don’t second-guess the wisdom of your body. If you’re sore, tired or noticing decreased performance, give yourself time to recover. On the other hand, if you feel as strong as an ox the day after a strong workout, there’s no need to decrease your next session’s intensity.
2. Drink plenty of water
The Mayo Clinic recommends that men drink at least 3 liters (13 cups) of liquids every day and that women drink at least 2.2 liters (9 cups) of beverages per day. Every single system in the body requires water to function. Overall, water accounts for 60 percent of your total body weight.
For this reason, even slight dehydration can lead to feelings of fatigue. No wonder, then, that athletes swear by increased intake of liquids for improved performance. The more you exercise, the more sweat you will need to replace with fresh water.
3. Warm up and cool down
Torn muscles, ligaments and other injuries are more likely to occur if you don’t properly warm up and cool down the body. To go from inactivity to strenuous exercise is extremely taxing on the body. Just as an automobile often performs better after a few minutes of warm-up, your muscles will feel stronger and more limber if you spend five to ten minutes walking briskly before your workout.
Cooling down after a workout is just as important. Indeed, a cool-down period (again of five to ten minutes in duration) helps remove excess lactic acid from your muscles and may reduce soreness later on.
4. Wear sports compression socks during and after your workout
Sports compression socks: They represent an easy, efficient way to boost performance and speed up recovery. Circulation is the key. Only premium brands of sports compression socks such as CEP or Sigvaris Performance compression socks offer graduated compression, meaning they are tighter around the bottom, nearest the ankle, and looser around the top, by the knee. This compression increases circulation throughout the legs, reducing swelling and soreness.
Runners and cyclists alike often find that they can delay soreness during performance by wearing sports compression socks. And many avid athletes put on a fresh pair of athletic compression socks following a workout to boost circulation.
5. Eat right
To replace fuel used during exercise, aim to eat within one hour of your workout. The body loves complex carbohydrates because they are easily broken down into fuel. Indeed, endurance athletes such as marathon runners are known to load up on carbs before a big race for this very reason. High quality proteins are also a good idea, as they help your body build strong muscles. In general, to reach your peak athletic performance, your diet should be varied and consistent throughout the day.
6. Stretch after warming up and cooling down
Stretching serves many functions for the athlete. It increases flexibility balance and coordination, which helps prevent injury. A good stretch can also cut your recovery time by increasing circulation to newly strengthened muscles.
7. Care for injuries, such as blisters
It isn't unusual for athletes to suffer seemingly minor injuries during long runs or games, due to repeated muscular athletic compression. Socks, for instance, can wrinkle during a run and cause blisters. Don’t consider yourself a wimp for noticing attending to, and preventing, such injuries. If you notice a post-workout blister or cut, care for it right away. This will free up energy for your body to work on healing the less superficial results from your exercise.
Since blisters are often formed in the same place over and over again, take the time to prepare for a big workout by applying protective bandages in areas that tend to get blisters. Lastly, pay attention to your socks. For most athletic activities, including running and cycling, thin sports compression socks are the best way to go.