We've been told time and time again that the main thing that you should prioritize to improve your physique, strength, or simply improve your athletic ability- is muscle recovery. Obviously the actual work you put in matters too, since that is how the muscle is broken down. But the time frame in which the muscle is RE-built back up is vital for pro athletes. We're going to break down the steps to prioritize in that span of time so you can set yourself up for success on your next muscle-tearing workout.
Best Muscle Recovery Methods
Stretching out the muscle fibers while they're warmed up increases blood flow to that muscle group, decreasing the chances of soreness the next day. By reducing or entirely diminishing soreness the next day, this athlete can train harder if not just as hard in their next session.
Overworked muscles never get the chance to heal and repair, which means they just keep being worn down, which defeats the purpose of training them. For this reason, every pro athlete knows the importance of prioritizing a good night's sleep as well as intermittent rest days to allow the body to properly rebuild new muscle tissue.
3. Blood Flow/Circulation/Compression
There are many ways to increase blood flow to a certain muscle group, the purpose being to help flush out the lactic acid that builds up during a strength training session. Some ways include cryotherapy, massages, foam rollers, electrical stimulation or simply just staying active throughout the day to keep things moving. Lactic acid is what causes that well-known feeling of muscle soreness, preventing athletes from pushing workouts to their max.
In terms of nutrition, protein is vital for recovery and sparing as much muscle as possible during the breakdown process. Athletes should be sure they are consuming all branch chain amino acids (or BCAA's) and keep a wide variety of protein in their diets to keep amino acid stores replenished during and after a strenuous workout. BCAA's include the three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. These are incredibly important to consume because they are the only three that cannot be produced by the body. This is why you'll often see athletes or bodybuilders drinking a brightly colored liquid during their workouts- its BCAA's!
Think of it as nine little doors in each muscle. And the muscle cannot rebuild properly and efficiently unless all nine doors are filled, which can result in muscle soreness the next day and hinder the athlete. Food will fill about six doors typically, but the last three tend to need special attention since they cannot be produced in the body. This is where the little bit of extra effort comes in which is where athletes/regular gym-goers find specific foods or supplements to fill those three doors!
5. EMS Unit
A lot of professional athletes looking to gain a competitive edge turn to electrical stimulation, widely known in the form of an EMS Unit (which stands for Electric Muscle Stimulation). What makes this device special is that it engages both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers, which is the goal for improved endurance and strength. It also simultaneously encouraged blood flow, which also contributes to recovery as discussed in step #3.
EMS Units became well known within the sports community when Yahov Kots, a Russian doctor, attributed the Russian Olympic win in the 70's to the speedy recovery rates that result from intermittent EMS use. He claimed it gave the average athlete the abillity to increase their strength by up to 30-40% according to FitTec.
We recommend the Verve TENS/EMS Unit by Massage Therapy Concepts since it has over 1,000 positive website & Amazon reviews. It also features 2 different channels and includes 4 electrode pads, allowing you to control the intensity of each channel separately. Plus you can customize the length of your session with the built in adjustable timer! This unit can be found at massagetherapyconcepts.com.
Happy (and quick) Recovery!