If you don’t follow the best post workout practices, your muscles may feel tight and tired. In a worst-case scenario, not following them could lead to an injury that could take more than 3 weeks to recover from.
We’re not trying to scare you, but the fact is that you need to look after your body. That means taking as much care after a workout as you do during it.
Want to improve performance and endurance, and to make sure you’re ready to train again soon? Here are 7 of the best post workout practices you need to follow.
1. Best Post Workout Cooling Down Techniques
Gentle aerobic exercise helps your body to recover from a workout. It’s perhaps the best post workout action that you can take, and you should do it after all exercise.
By increasing the flow of blood to your muscles, vital nutrients and oxygen are better delivered to your cells. This helps your muscles to repair and recover after a workout, which helps to stave off pain and injury.
If you don’t cool down properly, your muscles can cramp up after suddenly stopping work. This can be very painful and take much longer to recover from than any residual stiffness after a cool down period.
2. Stretching it Out
If any of your muscles feel particularly tight after a workout, do stretch them out. Gentle stretches can help to relieve the tension and avoid injury later on.
Not every stretch constitutes best post workout practice – you should use active or dynamic stretching while your muscles are warmed up. Static stretching can actually cause injury at this stage, as you can ‘pull’ muscles too far, resulting in injury.
Use exercises like arm and leg swings, forward bends, toe-touching and torso twists. Never jerk – all your motions should be smooth as possible.
3. Give Yoga a Go
Beyond normal stretching routines, yoga has been promoted by some in the workout community as a good end to a session.
You don’t need to go overboard. But using some basic moves such as shoulder stands, as well as the cobra and tiger positions can help to stretch out your muscles and prepare your body to go back to normal movement.
Regular yoga (coupled with good stretching) can help to improve your flexibility and core strength. Triathletes tend to be less bothered about core strength, as their sport is all about endurance. But that’s the wrong approach to take.
Good core strength means you’ve got a strong torso and back muscles. These muscles are responsible for holding up the top half of your body. Forgetting about them is a real issue.
Reliable core strength reduces injuries and means you won’t have muscular imbalances. You may also want to work some core strength exercises into your actual workout, like planking and leg raises. It may never be your main focus, and that’s OK – but it’s still really important.
Take a quiet moment once you’ve finished your yoga to help you clear your head. This is perfect if you work out in the early mornings and are heading to work straight afterward.
4. Supplements and Protein
If you’re bulking up, protein shakes are probably the best post workout drink. But endurance supplements are popular among triathletes due to the punishing nature of the sport.
Branch chain amino acids are particularly useful as they help to block lactic acid buildup. So they might prove to be essential for preventing stitches across a long course.
Protein is still helpful for triathletes, but bulking too much will mean you’re heavier. This will make running and cycling much harder work – and to an extent, swimming too.
When you’re actually doing a triathlon, consider using caffeine. This chemical helps your body absorb glucose better.
5. Cold Water
This may not be a popular idea, but in terms of best post workout actions, it’s way up there. Enduring cold water for around 20 minutes after a workout will help to reduce muscle soreness significantly.
Try a cold shower or a dip in the local lake or the sea, if you’re lucky enough to live near either of these.
Since you’re likely to be doing open water swimming in many triathlons, swimming in cold water regularly will help to prepare you for those jaunts.
It’s popular, but it really is a best post workout practice.
6. Massage Therapy
Like a good cool down, massage therapies increase blood flow to the muscles. It can also make you feel very relaxed, as well unknotting tight spots in your muscles.
It might be a little exotic or expensive for an everyday treatment though. So a full massage from a physiotherapist is probably a payday treat rather than an essential best post workout practice!
However, you might like to try foam rolling at home, which is harder work but can help to work out knots in your muscles.
7. Cherry Juice
There is research which suggests tart cherry juice can actually aid recovery after endurance events. Not only this, the research also pushes the idea that the cherry juice can reduce muscle damage and inflammation, as well as oxidative stress.
The study used a fairly small sample size (20 marathon runners). But we think that triathletes wouldn’t be doing any harm to themselves by drinking some cherry juice after their workouts and races. Though some more research in this area would help us to make our minds up.
If nothing else, cherry juice contains plenty of vital vitamins A and C – and it’s delicious.
Preparing for Your Next Triathlon?
Once you’ve done one triathlon, we know planning for the next one follows fairly soon.
If you’re getting ready for your next big race, consider whether some new gear could help you out. After all that working out, you deserve the best equipment.
Check out the rest of the site for more information on training, racing, and (hopefully) winning!