It always feels great to finish an exhausting workout. It’s a great accomplishment and no matter how bad a day could be, exercise can always and always turn it into a good one and that’s on science! After a good workout, they say that endorphins are released which gives a boost in mood that lasts for about two to three hours. Workout buffs are usually nicknamed as “endorphin junkies” as they constantly crave the high of post workout. And honestly, who can blame them?
Endorphins are hormones produced in the brain whenever the body experiences pain or is under any kind of stress. It’s actually similar to the morphine drug which acts like a painkiller that helps put any discomfort at bay and ultimately brings you an actual feeling of euphoria.
Recent studies have shown that endorphins in the brain do not really increase in level after a workout as it is not actually able to pass through the blood-brain barrier (Studies before quantified the amount of endorphin in the blood and not in the actual brain and just assumed that if endorphins in the blood are high so is the level inside the brain.) So what exactly is triggering the post workout bliss? Science says it’s actually two neurotransmitters that are accountable, namely serotonin and norepinephrine. They are your body’s way of congratulating you, saying “Hey, buddy! You did a really good job out there!” Exercise wards off depression and anxiety by building up and improving the body’s ability to respond to stressors.
But it’s not all just high and bliss in post workout and every athlete, workout buff, or even a newbie knows that exercise also comes with muscle pain and soreness!
How do we take care of our body after a workout?
What to do post workout?
After workout, a few hours or so, our body may experience a condition called delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS. This usually happens when you get off the exercising routine and get back on it after some time gap or when you’re starting a new exercise that your body is not yet familiar with, or after an intense workout.
In general, pain is good because it means that the muscles are taking the effects of the exercise. When your body is already familiar with the pain, it becomes more tolerable and you experience little to no soreness at all. The pain and soreness usually subside after 1-2 days (which is why active recovery after intense workouts takes that long as well) but if the pain persists, there is a high chance that you have torn a muscle and it’s good to see a specialist for this or rest more to help your body recover. It’s also worth noting to try a less intense type of workout or pace yourself when doing an exercise to prevent it from happening again.
Post workout, it’s important to never skip your cool down stretches and exercises. Make it a conscious part of your routine just as much as the main exercises. Warm ups before the workouts are also needed. It’s also good to take care of your muscles using active balls and foam rollers to loosen tight muscles in your body. These are handy exercise equipment to invest on.
If there are any areas where swelling or inflammation is observed, it’s good to place an ice pack on a thin towel and wrap around the area for about fifteen minutes. If there’s no swelling, a heat pack should be applied for around fifteen minutes as well to improve blood circulation. Massage is also a great way to loosen up those tight muscles after a workout. It’s also an incredibly relaxing activity!
If you can’t go to a massage or you’re just tired and you just want to go home, a nice hot bath is actually a good idea. Submerge on a hot tub to ease all the tension and help your blood circulate properly.
Another thing is get yourself to enjoy an activity that you find relaxing. For example, most people chill out after a workout by hanging out with friends and eating out, or for some, it’s chilling comfortably on your couch cuddled by your dog with a hot coffee or chocolate in hand watching some good tv. Whatever that is, you definitely earned and deserve that reward.
For your post workout meal, it’s highly recommended to add magnesium into the diet by eating beans, milk, cashew, and almond. Magnesium is excreted during sweating of the body while exercising and since it’s an essential nutrient involved in protein synthesis, glucose control, and energy production, it’s good to stock on it after a heavy workout routine. Aside from that, lack of magnesium can also cause muscle spasms so take that nutrient!
Next is sleep. No one recovers well without some quality sleep so go and get that rest that your body needs to recover.
And if you’ve done your due diligence in designing your workout routine, you should know that aggressiveness and taking no actual breaks can actually worsen your health condition instead of making it great. It’s best to take at least 2 days of rest after an intense workout. Post workout, it’s good to keep moving and improving your dynamic motion by engaging light exercises like walking and swimming. This way you keep your mobility without getting exhausted.
It’s also good to take a moment to meditate and take deep breaths to calm your body. This will definitely work wonders for your body.
Exercise can do a lot of good for our body but if we forget to take care of ourselves, the exercise may actually do us more bad. And we don’t want that to happen. So take that stretch you need, go and have a massage or a good nice hot bath, enjoy your free time with a friend or your dog, take some magnesium, sleep, and meditate.
Give your body the rest that it deserves after all you did a great job!