5 Things What to do after a workout : What does your post-workout routine look like? For many busy women on-the-go, the hour after the workout may not get the attention it deserves. If that sounds like you, don’t miss this go-to post-workout checklist of ‘must do’ items:
What to do after a workout?
Stretch, Stretch, Stretch
Did you know that it is after your workout when static stretching is most effective? That’s because the physical activity of your workout has warmed your muscles up, boosted your blood flow, and made muscles more pliable and well, stretchy. Thirty seconds of stretching doesn’t do anything for your body either – your muscles need several minutes to even 10 minutes potentially to really aid post-workout recovery.
What does stretching after a workout do? In addition to streamlining blood flow back through muscles to flush out built up waste (lactic acid) and toxins, stretching actually helps your muscles lengthen and reorganize jumbled tissue fibers (which helps protein cells build new muscles). Holding stretches for 20 to 30 seconds at a time in addition to utilizing foam rollers for a few minutes can lend itself towards helping you gain more muscle and tone down the line.
Get Out of Your Workout Clothes
There is often a tendency, especially for busy moms, to push off getting out of your workout clothes right away because you get caught up in your day – picking the kids up from school, working, making dinner, you name it. The problem is, hot and sweaty workout clothes are feeding grounds for all types of bacteria, yeast, and fungus. That means your sports bra, pants, shirt, and socks even could potentially lead to breakouts or skin infections.
This doesn’t mean you have to a take a shower, though a quick one is always a good idea, even if it’s just poppin’ a squat on round shower stool to cool down and rest for a minute. Don’t forget to always wear flip-flops or some sort of easy to slip on shoe in the locker room of your gym to avoid picking up common contaminants and bacteria that cause the very common athlete’s foot.
The purpose of sweat is to help your body cool itself off as your core temperature rises with physical activity. The average person sweats between 25 and 50 ounces during an hour of working out, so it is critical to replenish the water and electrolyte balance in your body by hydrating during and after a workout.
Thirst isn’t the only indicator that your body needs hydrating – you might also experience heart palpitations, muscle cramps, amplified fatigue, and even in severe cases, stop sweating altogether. You know what else is in your sweat? Electrolytes like potassium and sodium. Consuming electrolytes via sports drink or post-workout shake is important for water balance and muscle contraction too.
Fuel Up for Recovery
Did you know that an intense workout actually tears and shreds muscles (on a microscopic scale)? What you eat, drink, and do in the recovery period following a workout plays an important role in helping your body successfully stimulate ‘repair mode,’ where protein cells go about rebuilding muscle tissue.
You might have your favorite post-workout shake recipe nailed, but are you targeting the correct balance of carbs, protein, and vital nutrients? For maintaining weight and energy levels, target a 2:1 or 3:1 carb to protein ratio depending on your goals (weight loss, training, etc). Bounce your potassium levels back by throwing a banana or roasted sweet potato in your shake, and add healthy carbs with protein like greek yogurt, nuts, chia seeds, peanut butter, and rolled oats to your post-workout snack.
Nursing an aching knee or shoulder after your workout? While some natural muscle soreness occurs, especially when committing to high intensity workouts and weightlifting circuits, exercising through severe pain is a big no-no. If acute and intense pain occurs when exercising, you might be dealing with a potential injury.
After a workout, it’s critical to address pain and inflammation – maybe it’s elevating the affected area, applying ice packs, or even stabilizing with an appropriate brace or wrap, like an elbow tendonitis brace or ankle wrap. Seeking medical attention quickly can prevent further re-injury and get you on a road to recovery.
Oftentimes, the hour after you hit the gym can be just as important as the hour your spent in it. From practicing good hygiene to stretching and refueling, there are a handful of helpful best practices you don’t want to miss. What would you add to your post-workout checklist?
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