You just crushed a tough workout and feel like you’re on top of the world. What do you do next? If your answer was to quickly head to the locker room, you might want to take a look at this list.
Slow It Down
You might be tempted to save some time at the end of your workout, heading straight for the locker room, but missing out on a proper cool down is a big mistake. During intense exercise your heart rate is high, your body is being challenged and when you’re done you need to bring it back down slowly. Immediately stopping activity without a proper cool down period can cause blood to pool in your legs or feelings of dizziness, so take a few minutes to wind down.
Just as it’s important to bring your heart rate down slowly, it’s also crucial to stretch out your muscles. Taking the time to stretch will help with flexibility and muscle recovery. The process usually helps the body relax and as long as you don’t push too hard, stretching should help you get back to your next workout feeling less sore.
Hopefully you’ve been hydrating before and during your workout, but it’s still crucial to hydrate after. Especially after a strenuous sweat session, our bodies need fluids and nutrients replaced. Water usually does the trick but if you’ve just finished a particularly hard or long workout you might need something more substantial, like coconut water.
If after a long workout your first instinct is to find an ice cold shower, that’s exactly what you should do. Taking a cold shower is the fastest way to cool off and it comes with a bunch of other benefits you probably didn’t know about. If you can’t fit in a shower, consider wiping off the sweat and changing clothes and for quick cooling get a cool compress on the back of your neck and on your wrists and hands.
Much like rehydrating, it’s important to refuel—your body expends a lot of energy during a workout and fueling up properly will help you make the most of your progress and have you rebounding sooner.
Get a Massage
Whether it’s a professional massage or a few minutes with a foam roller, post-workout massage can help increase circulation, improve flexibility, work out “knots” and minimize the time it takes to recover.