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4 tips to maximise muscle recovery

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From showering to supplements, some things can genuinely help your muscles bounce back better after exercise. Here are five recovery tips to get you moving again sooner.

Workout one day, sore the next? You’re not alone there. In fact, it’s so common, it’s got an official name: delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS for short.  

While a build-up of lactic acid was once blamed for causing DOMS, we now know that the real reason it occurs is because exercise can lead to  microscopic tears in the fibres of your muscles. The body responds to this by increasing inflammation and it’s this that causes the delayed onset of soreness in the muscles.  

A workout doesn’t have to be DOMS-inducing in order to be effective, but when it does happen, DOMS usually sets in 12-24 hours after exercise and tends to peak one or two days after that. And while it’s not usually the type of muscle pain that’s cause for concern, it might stop you exercising while you recover. 
Keen to speed up the process? Good news – there are things you can do that can help. This handful of strategies is a good place to start. 

Have a cup of coffee before you put your active wear on.

A couple of different studies have made the link between drinking coffee and less painful DOMS, when the coffee is enjoyed before a workout. It’s all thanks to the caffeine content, which researchers say probably works to reduce pain by blocking the body’s receptors for a chemical that gets released in response to inflammation post workout.  

Massage your muscles.

The results of a review study that examined 11 different research papers shows that post-workout massage is an effective way to help alleviate DOMS, as well as improving muscle performance in the days afterwards at the same time. Obviously getting a daily, post-exercise massage is unrealistic, and unnecessary – unless you’re a professional athlete. But research has shown that using a foam roller can be a great substitute and is a recovery tool that reduces muscle soreness. 

Have a cold shower.

By all means jump into an ice bath instead if you want, but simply showering in water that’s less than 15 degrees for at least 10 minutes after you’ve finished exercising can help. What’s so great about cold water for your muscles? It reduces the inflammation and accelerates the delivery of nutrients that your muscles need to recover and replenish themselves. 

Take a magnesium supplement.

Take a magnesium supplement. Ideally one that’s specifically designed to support recovery after exercise, such as Blackmores Recovery Magnesium. As well as supporting healthy muscle contraction, supplementing magnesium can relieve muscle tension or stiffness and reduce muscle cramps and mild muscle spasms when dietary intake of the mineral is inadequate. 

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.