If you channeled your inner badass yesterday and went extra hard in the gym, yoga class, or however you worked up a sweat in the name of health, we applaud your commitment to fitness. And now that’s you have sufficiently crushed it, there’s still the matter of taking care of your body the day after an intense workout. Because as you know, how hard you challenge your body is only as valuable as how you help it recover.
As beneficial as the occasional strenuous workout can be, it won’t do much for you if you don’t show your body some major TLC after getting you through an especially grueling routine.
Science tells us that working out keeps you young and helps improve your mental health, but you still have to put in some additional work to make sure your exercising efforts pay off in the best possible way.
Your body has already shown you what it can do, but if you want to return the favor (and you totally should), take time out to do some of these things the day after a really intense workout. Trust us: Your body will love you for it.
1Get enough sleep.
You should be getting a healthy amount of Zzs in on a regular basis, but it’s uber important to get in some quality sleep after pushing your body harder than usual.
According to Livestrong, your body rebuilds and repairs muscles while you sleep, so be sure to give yourself the proper amount of rest so you don’t end up hindering this process.
This one’s a no-brainer, but don’t get so hyped over the fact that you survived an insane workout that you forget to stay sufficiently hydrated the next day. Obviously, that means no alcohol or super sugary drinks that will only deplete your body of water and other crucial nutrients. The last thing you want to do the day after an intense sweat sesh is allow yourself to become dehydrated and cause those already sore muscles to cramp.
3Foam roll like your life depends on it.
Congrats on absolutely killing it in the gym, but if you want to avoid feeling like your muscles are killing you, try foam rolling the day after your workout.
A foam roller is a super inexpensive piece of exercise equipment that doesn’t take up much space, but still packs a powerful punch when it comes to improving the post-workout condition of your body. It’s like a self-administered mini massage that can be done before and after workouts, but as SELF reports, foam rolling is essential for the day after a tough physical routine.
4Eat plenty of protein.
As you probably already know the effectiveness of your workout routine depends a ton of what you eat before, during, and after exercising.
According to Sports nutrition expert Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, a proper post-workout meal should definitely include lean protein — think: hard-boiled eggs, chocolate milk, tuna, string cheese, Greek yogurt — which aids the muscles in the recovery and growth process.
EatThisNotThat says a healthy amount of post-workout protein consumption is anywhere between 20 and 30 grams.
5Hit the sauna.
If there’s one way to treat yourself the day after a heavy-hitting workout, it’s a trip to the sauna. Not only will it help you relax and get into zen mode, the heat emitted from the sauna helps alleviate soreness and has even been shown to improve performance and endurance, Healthline reports.
Whenever you’ve exercised harder than normal, allow your body to reap the benefits of an active rest day. This still allows you to work on your fitness, but you limit yourself to performing strictly low-intensity activities. Examples of active rest activities include hiking, power walking, or a gentle swim.
Active rest days help your body to recover and also maximize the impact of that kick-ass workout you completed the day before.