Nothing beats the buzz of working out – if you’ve ever bounced out the gym feeling smug and accomplished or staggered in the door after a run giddy with endorphins, you know exactly what we mean. It’s literally the best, right up until you get out of bed the next day with legs like lead and feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck.
While there’s not a total escape from post-workout tiredness or the dreaded DOMS (that’s delayed onset muscle soreness, FYI), there are plenty of ways you can maximise your recovery so you feel as fresh as possible before your next session.
'Don't forget to refuel after your workouts. This noodle dish is DELISH:'
1. Sports massage
Yes, a massage. But not a relaxing one with candles – sorry. Sports massage therapists focus on loosening tight muscles and activating weaker ones. “By addressing any irritating tweaks or niggles, sports massage prevents them turning into the kind of injuries that can impact or even prevent your ability to train,” says Justin Rogers of Ten Health and Fitness. Book yourself in for one – while it might be uncomfortable at the time, you’ll walk out feeling like a brand new person. For real.
2. Moving stretches
You’ll remember static stretches from school PE – where you get into your stretch position and stay there. Imagine stretching – yep, it’s that. It certainly has its benefits, but moving stretches - where you go through a range of motion as you stretch – can be a brilliant way to boost your post-workout recovery.
“One of the problems with intense workouts is that they can make us sore and we also stiffen up much more than with gentler exercise,” says Suzanne Wylde, founder of the Moving Stretch method who provides treatments at Triyoga. “If we stretch afterwards we not only help to avoid DOMS, but we are much more likely to maintain a good range of motion.” Moving through stretch patterns helps tells your body you want to stay flexible, which is especially important after exercise which might make it want to tighten up to protect itself. Research has found that one-off stretching sessions don’t help improve your workout performance, but regular stretching does – try using one of these at-home videos to get your stretching routine started!
‘But there are a million kinds of yoga,’ you say, ‘and some of them are really hard!’
You’re right – luckily, in amongst all super-sweaty, challenging classes, there are more chilled yoga sessions available. Try Triyoga’s soothing Yin yoga, where poses are held for up to five minutes at a time to still the mind and allow tension to release. If you’re truly exhausted head to Yoga Nidra, where the teacher will guide you into a state between meditation and sleep for full body relaxation. Plus nobody will notice if you actually have a nap. Probably.
4. Cryo treatments
If standing in your pants in minus temperatures doesn’t sound like the relaxing recovery session you were after, well… we understand. But cryotherapy chambers such as those as 111CRYO in Knightsbridge, where you’re exposed to temperatures of around -80 to -90°C for three minutes, are the secret weapon of many an athlete and weekend warrior. According to 111CRYO, the literal chill session “can prompt reflexes and reactions within the body such as stimulation of the immune system, circulatory systems and central nervous system.” This can help reduce muscle aches and speed up recovery times among other benefits. Worth three minutes of being nippier than you ever thought possible? We think so.
5. Rest days
Yes, it probably seems obvious – rest = recovery from hard workouts. But it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of ploughing through your gym routine day after day, high on the endorphin buzz and the thrill of joining the #norestdays club.
“It's critical not to underestimate the role of rest days within your exercise regime,” says PT and Digme cycle instructor Hannah Lewin. “Whilst it might seem progress is not made during rest days, this is actually when the tiny tears in muscle and connective tissue that occur during training repair themselves.” Without this time to rest and repair, you’ll struggle to keep up your training and make progress.
“Continual overtraining can also cause considerable strain to your central nervous system which in turn affects your immunity which could cause a forced rest day due to illness!” Hannah explains. “Not taking rest days also causes injuries to become much more common, and can impact your sleep, mood and stress levels.”
So, dedicating a couple of days a week to lie ins and relaxing? It’s actually good for your fitness. You’re welcome.
'Words by Georgia Scarr'