A little soreness with a workout is bearable. . . maybe even pleasant if it’s a reminder of how hard you worked the day before. However, some aches and pains are more intense or don’t seem to go away quickly enough. This can limit both your ability and motivation to train.
Many clients tell us they don’t take pain medication because of the side effects, they don’t have time for a massage, and the ice bath the trainer recommended is just unbearable. So, the question that follows is . . . how else can I speed up muscle recovery after a workout and get on with my life?
The answer may be found in your refrigerator . . . the foods you eat build you up or break you down.
This is not just post workout, but how you fuel your body on a regular basis. Your muscles and immune system must be ready to take the hit of training and bounce back with ease.
Here are the top 10 foods I recommend as a Physical Therapist & Nutrition Specialist for rapid muscle recovery:
The antioxidants in blueberries help prevent free radical damage to your muscles. One study reported increased speed of muscle recovery for athletes who consumed them pre or post workout.
Cherries are similar to berries in their antioxidant properties. However, specifically tart cherries, are found in studies to decrease both muscle soreness and inflammation in athletes post workout.
This can come in the form of meats, plant based proteins, or a clean protein supplement. Whatever way you take it, protein is important to rebuilding the muscles fibers that are damaged during workouts. Avoid common protein shake mistakes with our tips HERE.
Dark leafy greens contain high levels of potassium that help decrease involuntary muscles contraction, otherwise known as dreaded cramps. Make a spinach salad, sauté it with some eggs, or toss a handful in your shake.
Most commonly salmon, oily fish contain omega 3 fatty acids that reduce the inflammation that often causes muscle pain post workout. If you don’t eat fish, a quality omega 3 supplement is a must! You can read more about supplementing HERE.
In addition to being a source of protein, eggs also contain the hard to find antioxidants selenium, lutein, and zeaxanthin that enhance energy production in your muscles needed for recovery.
Coconut oil and coconut butter contain MCT’s (medium chain fats) that act in your body more like carbohydrates than fat. They provide quick and easy to utilize energy for your body to use for muscle healing and are less likely to be stored as body fat.
Full of potassium, magnesium, vitamins, and antioxidants, broccoli is a power veggie to fight inflammation and free radicals in your body post workout for rapid recovery.
Turmeric contains the powerful anti inflammatory compound curcumin, which can help alleviate muscle pain. MRI scans in one study showed subjects who took turmeric experienced less muscle injury while training. This can be added to food or supplemented.
Collagen is the glue that holds your body together, so it is important to recovery. Specifically, it contains the amino acids proline and glycine, which have anti-inflammatory properties to ease muscle strains. Aside from repairing damage, it replenishes the proteins you lost after a long and exhausting workout. You can find more on Collagen HERE.
Lastly, don’t forget about the water. Although not really a “food”, your muscles must be rehydrated after a workout. Dehydration leads to low blood plasma volumes meaning less energy for your muscles, increased risk of injury, and delayed muscle recovery.
I hope you can see that it isn’t just one pre workout formula or post workout “recovery shake” that will make the most difference in your muscle recovery. You need a combination of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and macronutrients to repair muscle and get back in the game quickly.
Our goal is always to keep you in the game, on the court, at the starting line. . . or where ever you training is taking you!
So, if you are struggling with soreness, not meeting your health goals, or just want to make the most out of the time you spend exercising, let’s make a personalized nutrition recovery plan to optimize your muscle recovery.
Request a FREE Fitness Nutrition Consult for YOUR personalized plan by clicking the link below.