After your workout routine, the first thing that you might want to do is relax and get some rest. However, if you don’t want to experience unnecessary pain, possible infection, and the hassle of cleaning up the next day, you might want to think twice about jumping into bed right away. You need to let your body recover properly to get the full benefits of your exercise. Consider including the following activities in your post-workout routine to help with your recovery.
1. Cool down
Cooling down is important because it helps the body go back to the pre-workout state. The cool down brings your breathing and heart rate back to normal. It also helps restore your body temperature. If you cool down properly, you can avoid experiencing dizziness and that worn out feeling. You can also prevent muscle swelling and stiffness. To cool down, gradually reduce the intensity of your movements. You can perform the same exercise at a lower intensity or you can do another low intensity exercise for 5 to 10 minutes.
Once your body has cooled down, you can now proceed to stretching. Stretching can decrease the build up of lactic acid, as well as prevent muscle cramps, tightness, and soreness. Stretching helps muscles recover quicker by realigning them and by straightening out the knots.
Any physical activity can make you lose a lot of water and electrolytes so it is important to rehydrate after a workout. Rehydrating will help your body recover faster. Water is the best thing to drink after exercise because it helps replenish your body’s water. You can also drink milk to rehydrate your body. To replace electrolytes lost during high intensity exercise, you can drink a sports drink.
There are many post-workout snacks or meals you can eat. You want food that will replace depleted carbohydrates and protein as soon as possible. There are many suggestions on how to compute the carbohydrate-protein ratio. But generally, you will want to eat more carbohydrates than protein. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can eat as much pasta and bread as you want. You still need to keep a balance. Try to eat your post-workout meal within 60 minutes of the end of your workout.
5. Post-workout Hygiene
You need to be mindful of your hygiene practices after your workout. Before doing anything else, be sure to wash or sanitize your hands. Once the rest of your body has recovered, wash up or take a shower to get rid of the sweat and smell from your workout. Be sure to clean your head, face, underarms, privates, and feet extra well. If you bathe in gym or public showers, then wear slippers instead of going barefoot. If you go swimming, try to get out as much water from your ears as possible.
6. First Aid for Injuries
If you have any aches and pains after your exercise, be sure to administer first aid treatment. For swelling and pain, you can perform cold therapy by applying ice on the affected area for 10 – 15 minutes at a time. Cold therapy can be done several times a day. Just make sure to allow the skin to return to normal temperature before beginning another round of cold therapy. For blisters and chafing, wash the area thoroughly and apply antiseptic to prevent infection. If you get seriously injured, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
7. Gear Care
Don’t just dump your dirty clothes and gear into your gym bag. Handle them properly to prevent making a mess and to avoid damaging your things. Store your wet clothes separately from the dry clothes. Wipe the sweat and water off your electronics to prevent residue build up and moisture damage. When you get home, immediately wash your dirty workout clothes or keep them in a separate hamper. Put out your shoes to dry in order to prevent odor. If you have other gear like boxing gloves, support wraps, and mats, be sure to wipe them clean or allow them to dry before putting them in storage.
A good post-workout routine is an essential part of your lifestyle. It does not need a lot of time and effort so you won’t tire yourself out. You will find that your transition from workout to resting phase is easier and smoother if you take time to properly recover after exercise. You will experience less physical pain because of the cool down routine. You can also completely relax knowing that you have already dealt with your sweaty things. Try these activities after your next workout session and see how your body feels.
Top Photo Credit: tgirl-katie