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Five Ways to Better Your Recovery

Reading time: 5 minutes

This article was written by Darren Cuomo, WAIS High Performance Scholarship Athlete and Australian Wheelchair Rugby Player.

Finding you’re sore after a session at the gym? Lacking energy the day after? Not getting everything out of the experience that you hoped for? Here are five quick and effortless ways to boost your post-gym recovery habits and help your body be the best it can be!

  1. Contrast Showers

    Do you ever find yourself getting back from the gym, having a shower straight away, yet your body still aches afterwards? Contrast showers can be a way to help minimize the moans and groans of your muscles and joints and keep your body feeling fresh.

    Changing your showering from a consistent hot temperature to a more disciplined, regimented set of hot and colds bursts can greatly boost your blood flow to the areas most affected by your workout and force your circulatory system to become more efficient and adaptable as it constantly reacts to changes in temperature. Contrast showers normally consist of one minute of hot water, followed by two minutes of freezing water, repeated multiple times, but the duration of each cycle and number of cycles can change depending on what your body has endured and how long the session lasted. The hot setting is designed to promote blood flow through your limbs and extremities, helping send valuable oxygen to repair and build damaged muscle fibres. The cold segments do the opposite, restricting blood flow to the affected areas, with the aim of reducing inflammation, as well as to bring your heart down, your overall body temperature, and to relax your body and further help let it know that the action is over, it is now in the repair and maintenance phase.

    Combing these two ‘contrasting’ sensations allows your body to gain the benefits of both hot and cold therapy, being able to control the flow of blood throughout your body, whilst not requiring any cumbersome setups at home such as a sauna or an ice bath. Contrast showers often leave the participant with the feeling of bone chill, having their limbs almost cooled to the core, with the hot segments of the shower almost seemingly ‘trapping’ the cold sensation inside the body to significantly bring down that high body temperature and potential swelling and inflammation that comes from working out.

    Let contrast showers be an easy change you add into your post gym routine and feel the energy boost that comes from it!

  2. Compression Sleeves

    Just finished a heavy lifting program? Biceps pulsating after a grueling session with the free weights? Maximize your arm recovery by wearing some compression sleeves.

    Compression sleeves are easy to access, simple to wear and provide significant benefits to your body’s process of turning your pain, into gains. Compression sleeves act exactly as the name suggests, by compressing your limb, promoting blood flow to the area and engaging in the healing process, reducing pain and potential swelling. The day after soreness and stiffness comes from multiple factors, one of them often being not enough oxygen and nutrients have been able to flood into the affected regions to replace what was lost and build the damaged muscle fibres into bigger, more durable muscles. Compression sleeves fast track this process. So, after your next outing in the muscle factory, roll on some compression sleeves and do your body a favour.

  3. Recovery Food

    Most of the muscle we gain or weight we lose, is down to diet and what we fuel our body with. But just as important as what you put into your body, is when you choose to do so. Eating plenty of carbohydrates and protein after physical activity is an important part of the post workout process, but the benefits you gain from such foods exponentially decreases the longer you wait after concluding your session. Foods and vital nutrients consumed within thirty minutes after the conclusion of activities are going to give your body the best possible results and provide the highest level of benefit possible.

    So, remember to bring a snack with you, or have a shake or smoothie pre-made ready to consume as soon as possible.

  4. Massage Gun

    Don’t have the time or money to spend attending appointments with masseuses or other medical professionals? Then spend a fraction of the cumulative cost and invest in a massage gun. The benefits of consistent massage and body adjustments are well known and documented, but not everyone can engage in these services for a multitude of reasons.

    Handheld massage guns offer the ability to provide self-service therapy without the cost and hassle of outside engagements. A simple thirty-minute session after every workout engaging in the primarily affected and engaged muscles can significantly reduce day to day soreness and stiffness, as well as minimizing long term injury frequency and maximizing capacity for exertion.

  5. Stretching and Cool Down

    Another way we can look after our bodies and put them in the position to recover the best is by engaging in adequate cool down and stretching activities after a session. It may seem obvious to a lot of us that preparing for a workout by doing a light warmup and/or stretching our muscles will allow us to perform at our best, but often it is overlooked how important it is to do the reverse when we’ve finished doing what we’re doing.

    Reducing our speed on the treadmill or exercise bike, reducing the tempo on our final few lifting sets can help tell our body it is almost time to enter a rest and recovery phase. This will help reduce our heart rate, body temperature, as well as our muscles beginning to relax and reduce their strain. Combining these with proper cool down stretches, focusing on holding actions rather than active actions, will further relax our muscles and reduce the chance of next day soreness and stiffness and the long-term health of our bodies.