Stretching is essential for recovery after working out, since it keeps your body flexible and it reduces joint pain and stiffness in muscles. However, stretching alone doesn’t always prove sufficient in repairing muscle damage and preventing overuse, prolonged muscle soreness or injury. That’s why there are a few other forms of recovery that can also rebuild and strengthen muscles after a taxing workout.
Of course, you can keep stretching in as part of your recovery routine. However, adding in one of these other recovery techniques could further benefit your muscles and fight soreness so you’re ready for your next workout. Here are a couple of other recovery methods to try if stretching alone isn’t enough.
Epsom Salt Bath
Epsom salts, or magnesium salts, are helpful for reducing muscle soreness and pain after a workout. Plus, taking an Epsom or magnesium salt bath at night may also help induce drowsiness so you feel more relaxed and can fall asleep faster.
Magnesium helps prevent muscle pain and stiffness, which is why getting magnesium in the diet also prevents muscle cramps and joint pain in particular. So, in addition to eating nut butter post-workout, sit in an Epsom salt bath and take some time to recover.
If you’re prone to swelling post-workout or have joint stiffness and pain, compression gear, like compression socks, calf and foot massagers, and devices like Normatec, which wrap and tighten around your legs and ankles.
The compression is known to ease muscle tension and poor circulation by promoting healthy blood flow throughout the body. Some people even workout in compression clothing, which is another option too.
Cryotherapy and Heat Application
Cryotherapy has become a popular technique for workout recovery with the use of cold exposure to chill the muscles and relieve soreness and pain. If you can’t access a cryotherapy studio, you can also take an ice bath at home.
Some people like to alternate between hot and cold temperatures, so you might want to try a cold ice bath followed by a heating pad as another recovery technique that uses temperature manipulation to soothe the muscles.
Foam Rolling and Massage
Take stretching up a notch by grabbing a foam roller to target specific areas on the body that feel tight and sore. There are rollers with studs on them for more pin-pointed pressure, as well as rollers that fit perfectly on certain body parts, such as the feet and heels.
Using a roller on your heels and arches regularly can prevent plantar fasciitis symptoms and flare-ups, for example. You can foam roll alone or have a buddy help you reach those tricky areas. And of course, if you’re very active you should set aside time for a massage, at least once a month, to prevent overtraining injuries.