Fitness is important, but it is not necessarily a fun or memorable experience. It doesn’t matter what kind of workout you’re doing; your body and muscles are going to take a beating from it. What harm can there be done, after all?
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Here’s a fun fact: Lifting weights doesn’t increase the size or strength of your muscles. Relaxation is when the magic happens; this is when your muscles mend themselves and grow stronger. Even if you’re just trying to shed a few pounds, it’s critical that you allow your muscles to rest between workouts. Why? Let’s take a look and find out.
What Is Muscle Recovery, And Why Is It Necessary?
In the world of fitness, rest days and recuperation periods are common occurrences. But what do they comprise, exactly, and why is there so much commotion about this issue?
As you can see, your muscles and the tissues that surround them undergo a great deal of stretching and contraction as you train out. There’s no need to be worried about this, as this eventually leads to muscle rips and tissue breakdown, which is perfectly natural.
When you take a break from exercising, your muscles are able to mend and rejuvenate themselves through the synthesis and biochemical repair processes. Muscle recovery is the process that results in larger, stronger muscles. When you’re on an exercise routine, this phase is critical to your body’s well-being.
It’s possible that working out nonstop without a break is harmful to your goals. There’s a good chance that your output and progress will suffer as a result of your decreased efficiency.
How Much Time Should You Allow For Muscle Recovery?
We hope this information has helped you understand the importance of muscle healing and the importance of making time for it. The only snag is figuring out how much time to give your muscles to heal.
Many factors, including the type of training, nutrition, sleep, age, and the muscles being worked on, influence muscle recovery time. For example, the recuperation period for muscles in the 50-plus age group will be longer than in the younger, more active 20s.
The question then becomes: what is the optimum amount of time to allow for muscle recovery? A look at some of the most popular workouts and how long they should take to recuperate your muscles follows next.
So, how long does it take for muscles to heal after running a marathon or sprint? Running, for starters, uses the same muscles in every workout. As a result, the intensity and duration of your workout will decide how long you should take a break. Beginners should take at least one day off between runs.
Because of the tension involved, the terrain might also affect how long you sleep. You’ll need to take more time to recover if you’re going uphill, because it puts greater strain on your muscles.
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You may also check out 11 Best Workouts for Over 50 and Out of Shape to Help You Get Fit.
Depending on which muscles you worked on and your weight-lifting program, your recuperation time here will vary. Thighs and other large muscle groups require greater recovery time than smaller muscle groups.
The upper and lower body of some bodybuilders is often alternated on various days. Sports experts, on the other hand, advised 48 hours of rest before reactivating the same muscles. Exercise should always be done in accordance with your body’s signals. Don’t overtrain if you’re feeling tired, as doing so could put you at danger of injury.
But these are merely broad rules of thumb. If you want a muscle recovery time plan that works best for you, consult with your personal trainer.
High-intensity workouts require at least 48 hours of recovery time, according to the American Council on Exercise. As with lower-intensity workouts, a 24-hour rest period is recommended.
Keeping in mind that muscle recovery after workouts differs from recovery time for workout-related injuries can be helpful. For example, a bicep muscle injury can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to heal, depending on the severity of the injury. The recuperation time for a torn calf muscle, on the other hand, might range from 3 days to 6 weeks.
However, you should also pay attention to your body’s cues. Once in a while, you have to stop worrying about how long it takes for your muscles to recuperate and simply listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard and take a break if you feel fatigued!
These timelines may not be ideal for everyone. “How can I speed up muscle recovery times?” if that’s the case. In this section, we’ll learn how.
How To Speed Up Muscle Recovery?
If you give your muscles adequate time to recover from an exercise, they will do it on their own. It’s possible that you need to speed up this procedure for a variety of reasons. It’s possible that you’re running a tight ship and need to be back in top condition ASAP.
To speed things up, here are a few suggestions:
Take Healthy Recovery Foods
Rest intervals are enticing in their own right, but they should not be abused. During this period, your mind will begin to go toward unhealthy meals. As appealing as this concept may be, you should do everything in your power to resist it.
When you work out, your body expends its stored energy. Faster muscle regeneration and repair are made possible by replenishing depleted energy stores. This can be accomplished with a diet rich in high-quality protein and complex carbs.
Get Some Quality Sleep
When it comes to growth, sleep is a must. In this period, your muscles are able to recuperate at a far faster rate than they normally would. You’ll need more shut-eye if you’re working out more frequently.
Muscle recovery may be affected by sleep deprivation, according to one study. Sleep deprivation dramatically alters your body’s ability to respond to inflammation. The generation of hormones that aid in muscle growth can also be affected by a lack of adequate slumber (2).
Try Contrast Water Therapy
Cold water immersion and warm water immersion are alternated as part of this therapy. When the temperature changes, your blood vessels dilate and constrict, which alters your heart rate.
According to the findings of this study, using contrast water treatment to relieve post-workout muscle pain may be beneficial (1). Even while it was a promising start, it was a short-lived one.
When you’re dehydrated, your muscles can’t repair themselves as well. Working out in humid or hot weather will exacerbate the problem. When exercising, you should drink between 16-24 ounces of water for every pound you lose (3).
Try Tart Cherry Juice
Inflammation, muscle discomfort, and damage caused by strenuous exercise can be reduced with the use of sour cherry juice (4). As a result, consuming it can help speed up muscle healing time when done during downtime. More study is needed to properly understand the impact, but the results of the studies that have been published so far are encouraging.
In This Article
- How Do You Recover Your Muscles?
- Why Age Makes Muscle Recovery More Difficult
- Muscle Recovery Support Methods
As you get older, you may realize that your workouts are more difficult and that you have greater muscle soreness or fatigue afterward.
It’s possible to keep crushing your workouts and not feel so beat up afterward by paying more attention to your post-workout recovery routines and making healthy lifestyle changes.
What Is Muscle Recovery, Exactly?
Muscle fatigue and soreness subside after a workout, allowing you to return to the gym fresh and ready to work out again. Recovering from an exercise can be made easier by using recovery aids like foam rollers and compression tights, as well as electronic muscle stimulation gadgets.
When it comes to muscle healing, there’s more to it than just using gizmos and gadgets. It’s important to note that even after a workout, your body is still hard at work, repairing muscle protein damage and replenishing glycogen (carbohydrates the body stores for future use as energy).
During this time, you may experience fatigue or soreness. Delayed-onset muscular soreness (DOMS) is a common side effect of strenuous workouts or for those who are just starting out in the fitness world.
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A Look at the Most Popular Post-Workout Recovery Techniques That Don’t Work
Why Muscle Recovery Gets Harder With Age
For many reasons, you may feel like your muscle recovery time has gotten longer as you get older or that you need more time to recuperate after an exercise that never used to leave you feeling so exhausted.
1. You Have Fewer Muscle Fibers
“As we get older, we lose both the size and the number of muscle fibers,” says Ellen Anderson, PT, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of rehabilitation and movement sciences at Rutgers School of Health Professions.
To combat sarcopenia, regular strength training is vital, but as you become older, your muscles gradually adapt to their environment. For someone who exercises regularly, the rate of change is slower than for someone who is sedentary, according to Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital’s sports medicine physician Meagan Jozwiak.
You may find that you can no longer manage the same load or that you tire more quickly as your muscles alter over time. As you get older, your muscles become more and more taxed, therefore recovery time tends to be longer, explains Dr. Jozwiak.
2. Your Brain-Muscle Connection Weakens
Additionally, your neuromuscular system—the interplay between your brain and muscles—changes. Your brain and muscles communicate with each other, allowing you to move more weight more quickly and effectively.
According to Anderson, “you’re working hard on what you have left” if you’re doing the same exercises you’ve always done yet your muscles are shrinking and you’re losing muscle fibers and neuromuscular connections.
3. Your Connective Tissues Are Weaker
On top of that, the body’s internal structures and processes alter as we get older. You lose collagen and elastin (proteins found in connective tissue) as you age, causing the degradation of connective tissues such as tendons, blood vessels, and tissues in the arteries, according to Anderson.
In turn, this compromises your vascular system and reduces blood flow to your muscles. In addition, alterations in the tendons, which connect muscles to bones, are often what causes your muscles to feel sore and tight, Anderson explains.
4. Your Body’s Healing Process Is Delayed
The final explanation is that, according to Anderson, the aging immune system causes a delayed inflammatory response in older persons.
Stress activates your body’s inflammatory reaction, which sends more blood to the affected location to provide white blood cells and other key immune-system components to aid in the healing process, as well.
Because too much inflammation might produce swelling, “you don’t want too much, but you want just enough to help in the healing process,” Anderson explains. As a result, it may take a bit longer for your muscles and tissues to heal if this response is pushed back.
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What to Do If You’re Exhausted After a Workout?
6 Ways to Support Muscle Recovery as You Get Older
As you become older, you don’t necessarily have to change your post-workout recovery routine, but focusing on rest-day principles that you may have ignored will aid in the mending process. Here’s how to get your muscles back to normal faster.
1. Focus on Nutrition
According to Dr. Jozwiak, eating before and after an exercise helps with recovery and keeps your metabolism going. Protein, which aids in muscle repair, and carbohydrates, which refill your glycogen levels, are therefore essential.
As an American Council on Exercise scientific advisory panel member, Western Colorado University professor of exercise and sport science Lance Dalleck, PhD, explains, “If you’re not getting an optimal protein and carbohydrate combination after your workouts it will take you longer to recover from any workout, but in particular, a harder workout.”
Increasing your protein consumption throughout the day may be a good idea as you age, according to Anderson, because older people require more protein in general.
Consuming additional protein can help counteract the decline in muscle tissue’s sensitivity to protein, according to a June 2016 review in Nutrients. A dietician can help you figure out how much extra to eat, although it’s not clear how much.)
2. Stay Hydrated
In general, Anderson explains, “older individuals’ physiology is working against them, so they tend to become dehydrated sooner or in a resting state. In other words, staying hydrated is essential. When it comes to staying hydrated, experts recommend drinking water throughout the day rather than trying to down a large amount at the end of the day.
To produce energy, your body requires water for effective digestion of meals. In order to control your body’s temperature and blood volume, which are both critical to cardiovascular health, H2O is required as well. After an exercise, these factors might have an impact on how you feel and how quickly you recover.
3. Make Time to Stretch
Anderson believes that focusing on flexibility can help reduce stiffness. After a workout, when your muscles and tendons are warm and more pliable, this is the ideal time to perform these stretches.
After a workout, “stretching does not always mean you will not be sore, but you will be able to deal with the stiffness more effectively if you perform some flexibility training after your workout,” said Andersons, a personal trainer.
Try to hold each stretch for a full minute. In particular, pay attention to your lower back and hamstrings, which are common spots for muscle stiffness.
In order to overcome the stiffness that comes with age, Anderson recommends a post-workout stretch. If you experience a health emergency, you will be better able to recover and preserve muscle and joint function if you have improved flexibility and mobility.
Doctor Jozwiak notes that numerous studies have shown yoga and tai chi to be beneficial to both general flexibility and fitness, as well as the outcomes of those who have been hospitalized.”
4. Get Enough Sleep
Dalleck believes that sleep is a crucial component of muscle rehabilitation that is sometimes overlooked. Muscle mass and tissue healing are boosted by a hormone that is released during deep sleep, according to the NIH.
Getting a good night’s sleep is often overlooked in favor of more complicated issues such as exercise, nutrition, and whether or not to use heat or cold as a therapy, according to one expert. “As we become older, sleep becomes more difficult, and that can have a significant influence on many aspects of our lives, including rehabilitation.”
Dalleck claims that a lack of sleep can affect your hormones, particularly your stress hormones.
Increases in stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, can hinder muscle growth, according to Dr. David Dalleck. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s hormones are out of whack, which can affect everything from your heart health to how quickly you recover from an exercise.
5. Try Heat Therapy
Dalleck recommends soaking your muscles in a hot tub or sauna after a workout to enhance blood flow to your muscles. He claims that increased blood flow aids in the removal of waste materials and the transport of nutrients and repairing cells to damaged muscles.
The correct combination of carbohydrates and proteins can reach skeletal muscle and assist repair injured muscles and restore glycogen, explains Dalleck. “Better blood flow gets it there faster.”
You may actually benefit from local heat stress after a hard workout, according to an October 2020 review in Exercise and Sport Sciences Review. After an exercise, Dalleck recommends soaking in a hot tub or donning a sauna suit to help your body recuperate more quickly. It’s worth a shot, as long as you do it safely.
Always with your doctor before using a hot tub if you have a heart condition.
6. Give Yourself More Time to Recover
In the event that your muscles are extremely fatigued, it is best not to continue. Soreness can sometimes do more harm than good, according to Dr. Jozwiak. If this is the case, incorporating more rest days into your schedule may be the best option.
In order to increase your muscle mass and strength, you only need to undertake strength training on two days a week. This means that if you need to skip one of your scheduled sessions in order to rest and recuperate, don’t be disheartened.
According to Dr. Jozwiak, “even though it doesn’t look like much, it does indicate a physiological effect.”
There is nothing wrong with a little discomfort, but if you find yourself in pain when doing normal tasks, you may need to reduce the intensity or number of days you train. Do what your body tells you to do, and don’t be scared to do more of it if that’s what it needs to get stronger and stay healthy as you get older.
All of these items should help keep your healing rate the same as you get older, adds Dalleck. Gradually, you shouldn’t notice much of a difference, but don’t be surprised if it does.
With each decade, “there’s going to be a little bit more time,” he says. Keep in mind how much faster those changes would take place if you stopped exercising, and know that you’re already doing amazing things for your body by moving it every day.
How many times have you heard to keep an eye on your nutrition and maintain a healthy balance? Exercising, on the other hand, falls within the same category. Everyone hopes to see the results of their labors at some point. In order to do this, it is necessary to strike a balance between exercise and rest.
Rebuilding and repairing your muscles before the following workout is much easier with adequate muscle recovery times. As a result, you’ll have more powerful and larger muscles, which will improve your total performance and efficiency. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting adequate rest the next time you take a break.