A Complete Guide to Muscle Recovery

We spoke with three Certified Personal Trainers (CPT) to learn why we need to practice better recovery methods and what their best science-backed tips are.

The Importance of Muscle Recovery

  • 65% of Americans have sustained injuries from their workouts, such as pulled muscles, ankle sprains and knee strains.
  • “Muscle recovery is important for many things,” notes Christopher Chan, a NCSF Certified Personal Trainer. “Skeletal muscle is a highly plastic tissue, capable of adapting to fine changes in nutritional intake and contractile activity.”
  • Christopher explains that when we engage in more strenuous activities such as lifting weights, we cause “microtears to our muscle fibers, so without adequate rest, the muscles won’t properly grow.”

Stretching 101 

  • NASM CPT Greg Molina broke down three main stretching techniques. “I’m a big fan of self myofascial release and dynamic stretches, static stretches, and instrument assisted mobilization,” says Greg.
  • Greg recommends using myofascial before a workout, to ensure muscles are working properly and dynamic stretching before or after a workout, to either warm up or cool down to ensure your body stays functioning at the level you want it to while lowering your risk of injury.
  • Greg: “static stretching should primarily be used at the end of your workout to make sure your muscles aren’t tightening up on you too much.”

Recovery Boosting Supplements

  • “Having a whey isolate protein shake is the first thing I do after a workout to make sure my muscles are being replenished,” shares Andreina Stazi, a NASM CPT and Operations Manager at Sharpened Fitness & Nutrition.
  • Andreina: “BCAA’s in the morning and during my workout, collagen supplements in the morning, and lots of greens throughout my day.” Collagen peptides can provide energy and support your joints and tendons, assisting in muscle recovery.
  • Christopher: “BCAA’s, branched chain amino acids, such as leucine and iso-leucine, have been shown to reduce muscle damage by lowering soreness and improving strength recovery.”

Post-workout Nutrition

  • Christopher: “Anti-inflammatory foods have been shown to benefit muscle soreness, such as pineapple, berries, and tart cherries. They exhibit potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and play a role in the muscle recovery process. Fruits are also a great post-workout snack because they replenish the body’s natural glycogen stores as the liver converts the naturally occurring fructose in fruits into glucose.”
  • Greg recommends fruits that are high in carbs and potassium, like bananas. “Because potassium is crucial to heart function and muscle contraction, high potassium foods can help prevent muscle soreness and cramping.”

There are many easy methods we can use to improve our muscle recovery, but the main points are fueling your workouts, stretching and foam rolling, and getting sufficient rest.

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