DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) … we’ve all been there! The day or two after a big training session or workout, our body likes to remind us just how much effort we put in and stiff, sore muscles can really impact our overall mobility, compromising the quality of our next session. DOMS may even stop you from getting in that next workout entirely.
Now, DOMS are inevitable and trying to eliminate them entirely would actually be counterproductive. What we are usually experiencing when we talk about DOMS is Inflammation post-exercise and this inflammation is incredibly important as a method by which your muscles tell your brain and body that they need some extra support to repair and recover stronger than they were before.
So, instead here’s our top 4 steps to speed up muscle recovery so you don’t have to experience DOMS for any longer than you need to. Continue reading to find out more…
There are countless ways (both good and bad) to recover post-workout; these range from nutrition to cold showers, massage, and everything in between. But we’re going to keep it simple for you with our 4 easy steps to optimise and speed up muscle recovery after exercise.
Being properly hydrated is critical for your overall health and wellbeing, not just your exercise performance and recovery. So, one of the best things you can to support muscle recovery before you have even started a workout is to be well hydrated already.
And then, whilst you are working out or training it is important to maintain your hydration status, drinking little and often as you go – around 500ml per hour is a good start. The hotter the environment, or perhaps if you are working at higher intensities for longer durations, then you may need to go a little higher than 500ml per hour and you may even consider supplementing your drink of choice with key electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
The human body is more than 70% water, and dehydration can be catastrophic. Water enables the movement of nutrients, oxygen, and heat energy all around the body, supporting and regulating a whole host of body systems.
When you are dehydrated, blood pressure will become elevated, and your heart will have to work harder and faster just to maintain ‘normal’ and through sweat we can lose important minerals that our body needs to maintain performance.
To ensure you are adequately rehydrated following one workout and before starting the next, aim to replace around 150% of the fluid lost through sweating. You can find out this out by weighing yourself before and after your training session.
Adding electrolyte tablets or powders to your water is a simple and effective way to ensure that you are doing everything possible to maintain optimal hydration before, during, and after a workout. Doing so will put your body in the best position to optimise muscle recovery.
This is the important one (to us) and it should be important for you too. Consuming the right types of foods, at the correct time and in the correct amounts for you is a critical part of the recovery process; helping you repair and build muscles as well as repair other soft and connective tissues that have been damage during physical activity.
Just like hydration, fuelling correctly is a case of before, during, and after to give your body the best chance to recover optimally each day. Balance is also critical – making sure you have the correct ration of carbohydrates, protein, and fat so that the body has everything it needs there and then.
Did you know that each muscle in the human body is made up on average of over 250,000 individual muscle fibres! Each one of these are highly complex tissues made up proteins including collagen.
Now the bad news is that when we exercise or take part in physical activity, we damage these fibres making it essential that we replace the protein that has been lost through our diet, such as food and or supplements like our Active Whey & Collagen recovery powder.
Every body is different, both in physical size and shape as well as the types of physical activity we all do, even down to the intensity and frequency too. This means that no one size fits all approach to recovery nutrition will apply… but there are still a few general principles that do apply and from there you can simply test and trial different things to find what is most optimal for you and your goals. In our eyes, this continual process of learning is part of the fun and appeal of leading an active lifestyle and is something we will always recommend.
Proteins are the essential building blocks of every cell and tissue of the human body. Luckily, protein is a highly accessible nutrient and nearly all foods have some sort of protein in them. Whole foods like meats, fish, other seafood, and eggs are all naturally rich in protein, as is milk, and are essential for muscle recovery and repair.
If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, whole foods like tofu, lentils and chickpeas are your best bet for foods high in protein.
Whilst carbohydrates get a lot of bad press, a healthy balanced diet that supports health, wellbeing and performance requires adequate supply of carbohydrates. As you take part in physical activity, your muscles are utilising energy stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen.
Re-fuelling and muscle recovery post-exercise requires carbohydrates just as much as protein as the muscles themselves need to replenish and store glycogen ready for the next workout but also to provide the energy needed to facilitate muscle protein synthesis and muscle recovery.
Muscle recovery supplements like our Active Whey & Collagen recovery powder are formulated specifically to optimise the recovery and strength of muscle fibres post workout so you can optimise your performance in your next workout. Combining 12g of Whey protein concentrate and 15g of muscle specific BODYBALANCE® Bioactive Collagen Peptides®, Active Whey & Collagen provides a high-quality source of muscle building and strengthening amino acids proven to contribute to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass and maximise adaptations from your training.
Other supplements such as tart cherry juice extract are also valuable post-workout supplements. Naturally rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients as well as the sleep regulating protein hormone melatonin, tart cherry juice can reduce the impact of delayed onset muscle soreness as well as improving the depth and quality of your sleep which will further enhance muscle recovery post-workout.
As we have just mentioned, sleep, or even Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) are powerful tools in your recovery toolkit both for body, and mind. Sleep is one of the most important physiological processes, but it can be tricky to master – even the science is struggling to fully understand the complexities of sleep.
During sleep you move in and out of sleep ‘cycles’ with each stage within those having a very particular purpose and outcome. Crucial to muscle recovery is the period of ‘deep’ sleep called ‘Slow Wave Sleep’ (SWS) which is characterised by the physically restorative phase of sleep.
The earlier hours of your night’s sleep are usually dominated by SWS and overall, it can occupy around a quarter of your total night’s sleep. During SWS your body carries out the rebuild and repair of body tissues such as muscle.
Whereas before achieving 8 hours of sleep was deemed the only criteria for getting ‘good’ sleep, as science has now progressed, we are understanding more and more just how important quality of sleep is over quantity.
Sleep hygiene is critical to this. A dark and cool room with little to no sound as well as a consistent sleep-wake routine are some of the simplest tools you can use to optimise the quality of the sleep you are getting instead of forcing longer time in bed.
Reduced screen time or using blue light reducing screen settings or eyewear as well as avoiding caffeine and meals in the immediate hours before bedtime are also strategies you could give a try.
We all have busy schedules and knowing that you are optimising the amount of sleep you can realistically achieve is far more productive and rewarding than constantly wondering and worrying about hitting the magic 8 hours a night.
Naps are also a valuable tool, if you have the ability to take them that is. But be careful not to nap too long and too close to your usual bedtime as these can disrupt your circadian rhythm (your body clock) and lead to disturbed or ineffectual sleep when it really counts later that night.
Other recovery modalities that you can try including are stretching, massage, foam rolling and other forms of myofascial release such as percussive therapy. Some equipment is required for most of these but often all you need is you, a bit of floor space and some time to practice a little bit of self-care. Your muscles will thank you for it later.
Cold or Heat Immersion (yes, they are both useful) are also becoming more and more widespread and effective tools to improve muscle recovery and adaptation. We won’t go too much into detail on either of these here as there is so much to unpack. So, stay tuned to the U Perform Knowledge Hub these articles… coming soon!
Protein for muscle recovery at U Perform
At U Perform, we offer a range of sports collagen recovery supplements, each designed to target and restore different areas of the body. Each product uses a unique and clinically proven formulation of Bioactive Collagen Peptides® and other ingredients to support the production of collagen and restore the body’s strength and reduce the risk of injury.
If you’d like to find out more about our collection of Informed Sport approved collagen supplements that can help your muscles recover from injury and exercise, browse our range recovery supplements today.