The gyms are finally reopening. Spin classes are already being scheduled. Yes, we can go back to working out in our favourite fitness centers again and it feels great. At the same time, it’s important to practice social distancing protocols as mandated by the government.
While many of us are enthusiastic about returning to a gym environment again to shed those “quarantine gains”, many of us might commit some post-exercise recovery mistakes in our excitement.
Which may result in actually hurting our weight loss efforts, and likely to get us injured. Which is why we need to avoid these mistakes, and the first step to correcting mistakes is to identify them.
What are the common post-exercise recovery mistakes?
Not cooling down enough
Rushing to finish a workout is not a good thing. We need to give our body enough time to recover. Some people – particularly those who squeeze in their workout sessions during lunch breaks – actually even skip the cooldown part of their workout and head straight to the shower.
Our temperature rises and blood vessels open up more during physical activities (running, exercising, etc.) and cool-down exercises help get them back to their normal state. Not giving your muscles enough time to cool down will cause blood to pool in your body’s lower extremities.
Your blood won’t have as much pressure for it to be pumped back to your heart and your brain. Use a fitness tracker to check your heart rate, which should be around 60-80 before you stop your workout.
Too much sports drinks
Staying hydrated after working out is hands down – very important. But reaching for that bottle of sports drink during and post workout isn’t exactly the best option.
Sports drinks actually contain carbohydrates and calories which athletes need in order to power through intense training sessions or events. So unless you are training for a marathon or just completed a really tough workout that lasted more than an hour, you are actually taking in more calories than you burned by reaching for a sports drink after working out.
Stick to plain water to rehydrate. You can also add a tiny pinch of salt in your drinking water to replenish electrolytes after your gym session or cycle class, and keep the sports drinks at a minimum. A recommended amount is a mouthful of isotonic sports drink for every 15 minutes of hard exercise.
Not eating after working out
Or more specifically, waiting too long after a workout to eat your next meal. Refueling your body after a workout session is important for recovery. Not only do you need to replenish the energy you used, you need to eat so your body can repair the micro tears in your muscles caused by exercise.
Get carbohydrates and proteins within two hours of your workout. Sooner, if you just did a really intense session that lasted for an hour or so. Carbohydrates replenish your energy stores, protein helps with muscle recovery and strength. Don’t wait too long to get your post-workout meal.
Scheduling another training session the next day
Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to pump iron or sweat through a 90-minute cycle class every day to be healthy. There is such a thing as overtraining and even star athletes understand the importance of incorporating rest days in their training sessions.
If you do not set a time for recovery, your muscles will not get the chance to heal. If muscles don’t get to heal, it doesn’t get stronger. That’s why working out every day might defeat the purpose of building strength and toning up muscles.
Instead, switch up intense workout sessions with lighter activities. Go for long walks or do stretching exercises the next day so you can keep a healthy blood flow to those sore muscles. If you must do active recovery exercises, avoid using the same muscles from your tough workouts.
Not getting a post workout massage
Getting a massage after working out is helpful in reducing muscle soreness and pain. It is also a great way to relax after an intense workout session, and helps a lot in easing anxiety and stress. Now, not all gyms offer post workout massage services and it can be a bit of a hassle to squeeze in a session with a massage therapist after your workout. Also, social distancing rules are still in effect, so doing a self-massage after your workout is the best option.
Using sports recovery devices like a massage gun is a good way to ease those post workout pains and soreness. These devices use percussive force to drive vibrations deep into muscle tissue. These breaks down the lactic acid build up in the muscles which minimize inflammation and pain.
Massage guns are very portable and can easily fit in your gym bag. You can take it out after working out to ease post-exercise inflammation or use it during your workout between reps to keep your muscles warmed up and ready.
There you have it. Some of the most common post exercise mistakes that many of us make. Keep in mind that what we do after working out is as important as the actual workout itself. And we need to make sure what we do outside the gym is not putting all of our hard work to waste.
What other post-exercise mistakes do you know about? Sound off in the comments and let’s discuss!
(This post is written by guest writer, Jai Tadeo)