Finishing a hard workout feels pretty good, even when you’re a little sore! If you’re a fitness enthusiast, or even if you just like to take care of your body, you know that a good workout will leave you with tired muscles. This is because, during a workout, you’re causing a kind of “trauma” to muscle cells that the body treats kind of like an injury; when you rest, your body repairs these damaged muscle cells, building more muscle. You don’t actually build muscle while you work out – you build muscle while you rest! That’s why it’s important to care for your body after exercise. Here’s a few tips for caring for your muscles after a workout:
1. Incorporate a cooldown routine
After a hard workout, make sure you ease your heart back to its normal rate. For instance, you can walk or jog lightly, to keep your body moving while you cool off. This also helps keep your blood circulating and clears out lactic acid. Stretching at this point can be very helpful as well!
2. Rehydrate and refuel
Obviously, you sweat a lot during a workout and it’s important to rehydrate (since the cells in your body are made up mostly of water). Make sure you drink water during and after your workout to keep from dehydrating your body. It’s also important to eat the right kind of snack after a workout: protein helps build muscles, and carbs help you recover by replenishing nutrients lost during endurance and cardio training. Try to eat a protein- and carbohydrate-rich meal or snack shortly after your cooldown.
3. Mix up your workouts
According to Dr. Ryan Lingor, a primary care sports physician, low-impact exercise is a great way to help sore muscles recover. Plus, the best way to build muscle is to do a variety of different exercises, so low-impact activities would be a great way to mix up your weekly exercise routine. Try swimming, power walking, or yoga to help ease sore muscles and build more muscle simultaneously.
Taking care of your muscles after working out is an important part of your fitness routine! Make sure you’re following best practices for muscle care to see (and feel) the best results. For more tips and content like this, sign up for our email list.
 Source: Young sub Kwon, M.S. and Len Kravitz, Ph.D.