Welcome, Guest Editor Heather Lomax! It's January, we are all about the post-holiday burn, and we are thrilled to have Heather's input on how to recover from your workouts with some Apple Watch tips.
Heather Lomax is a contributing writer and media relations specialist for Orangetheory Fitness. She writes for a variety of health blogs, and in her spare time, takes special interest in researching methods for achieving optimal fitness goals.
If you’ve been to the gym recently, you’re probably dealing with some aches and pains. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) can be severe enough some days that it’ll keep you out of commission for longer than you’d probably like, but it doesn’t have to stop your routine in its tracks.
Keep Your Macros in Check
Avoiding processed sugar, saturated fats, and high sodium is important for any diet, but starving yourself won’t do your muscles any good either. To promote healing and reduce inflammation, eat foods rich in healthy carbs, protein, fiber, Vitamins A-C, and omega-3s.
While it’s common practice in fitness circles to demonize carbohydrates altogether, you’ll find your recovery time significantly reduced if you regularly consume fruit, veggies, whole grains, and yogurt after your workouts. This is because muscle glycogen thrives on carbohydrates during high-intensity exercise, and when you run out of these stores on a low-carb diet, you’ll notice prolonged soreness and susceptibility to injury. And when you’re training for competitions or just trying to lose weight, this can be a big roadblock to your progress. So, stop being afraid of carbs already – they’re good for you!
The mental and physical benefits of yoga are hard to ignore – relieved muscle tension, reduced stress levels, and improved flexibility and balance, just to name a few. But did you know that it can advance post-workout recovery, even just once a week? In fact, static stretching is best performed after workouts anyway, since these same stretches can actually be a detriment to your workout.
The best part is, yoga studios are almost as common as fitness clubs now. And if a public setting doesn’t interest you, the activity can also be enjoyed in the comfort of your home with free online videos or with apps on your Apple Watch. Here are some poses to get you started, or try the Pocket Yoga app for easy to use timed poses right on your Apple Watch!
Obviously, you want to clean up in the shower after you’re done working out, but a hot shower will only benefit your muscles so much. Instead, try taking a recovery-boosting contrast shower, either directly after a workout or on one of your off-days. All you have to do is alternate between hot and cold water – hot for 2 minutes, gradually reducing the heat, and then continue onto a cold shower for 1 minute. Repeat these steps for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the intensity of the recent exercise.
Does every muscle you’ve worked feel like a giant knot that just can’t be worked out with the above methods? Don’t spend a fortune on a massage therapist, which can run you between $60 and $150 per visit. Instead, purchase a foam roller for $15-$30 or massage balls for $10, and you’ll have a permanent “masseuse” ready to work out your tightest muscles. You can use one before your workout to promote circulation, and then again afterwards to knead built-up knots.
This may seem pretty obvious, but with 75% of Americans suffering from chronic dehydration, it’s worth the reminder. Our muscles are mostly comprised of water, too, so maintaining hydration is vital to promote healing and flexibility.
It can be hard to keep track of your water intake, but fortunately, fitness devices like the Apple Watch can take care of that for you with the press of a button. Just set an alarm on your Watch and you’ll never forget to take a sip of water again!
To remain accountable, keep a reusable water bottle around at all times to sip on throughout the day so that you don’t have to worry about buying bottled water or finding a drinking fountain. And if the flavor puts you off, there are flavorings out there without artificial sweeteners or added sugar. Even just a lemon or two will make it far more palatable.
There are many ways to keep soreness at bay, or at least at a manageable level. Take some time after your workouts to implement some of these habits, and you should notice a significant difference in your recovery time.
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