When someone says “stress,” most people think of a negative mental or emotional state. A harried office worker desperately trying to finish a project on time might come to mind.
In reality, however, stress is a bodily reaction. Everything from walking to the store to deadlifting at the gym puts the body under stress. It may come as a surprise that it isn’t actually the exercise that makes the body stronger. It’s the process of physically stressing the body, through things like exercise, that is key to improving fitness.
The adaptation process happens post-workout, so creating a proper rest and recovery regimen is essential to any fitness program. To get better results from your workouts, pay attention to developing a recovery routine. Making some simple changes, such as getting better sleep or using cannabis, can improve recovery, and overall fitness.
In for Repairs: Why Recovery Is Key to Fitness
Many people believe that exercise alone is what creates fitness. The process is actually a bit more complicated.
During physical activity, the body is under stress. The heart and lungs have to work harder, and muscles must stretch, exert force, or propel the body through space.
This stress causes tissue to break down. When the workout is over, the body enters repair mode and rebuilds the newly damaged tissue. Over time, this process of breakdown and repair leads to stronger muscles and a more efficient cardiovascular system.
Performing physical activity is important to trigger the process of repair, but the process itself is where all the work happens. This is why resting and recovering properly is so important to achieving optimal fitness.
A Look Inside: What Happens During Recovery
For the body to rebuild damaged tissue, it has to have the proper fuel. After all, the body can’t build tissue from nothing, Proteins are important building blocks for repairing damaged tissue. Protein is considered the most important part of nutritional recovery. There’s even an optimal window to get protein to the body after a workout; it’s most effective around an hour to 90 minutes after working out.
The body must also replenish its glycogen stores, which are burned up during a workout, so it’s important to refuel with carbohydrates too. Training sessions that last more than 60 minutes deplete glycogen, even when the workout is low intensity.
Since physical activity is seen as a stressor by the body, cortisol is released during a workout. Proper recovery routines encourage the body to return to normal cortisol levels.
The Risks of Recovering Improperly
What happens when the body isn’t given the recovery tools it needs? The most obvious potential outcome is an increased risk of injury. The body may not be able to repair tissues fast enough, leading to muscle tears or worse.
Cortisol build-up is another potential risk of improper recovery. Cortisol is helpful during a workout, but high levels contribute to high blood pressure and sleep disturbances. High levels of cortisol can even impair the effectiveness of a workout regimen. The hormone encourages the body to store fat, especially in the abdomen.
Improper recovery also impairs performance. Instead of pushing harder after an unsatisfactory workout, it’s important to listen to the body. Mental fatigue and extreme muscle soreness are signs that more recovery is needed.
Getting the Right R&R
It’s important to note that everyone is different when it comes to rest and recovery. Age, current fitness level, and more, impact the type and duration of recovery needed. Even the type of workout itself changes the recovery regimen.
Keep in mind that recovery is both a short-term and long-term process. There are a few different “types” of recovery everyone should pay attention to:
- Active recovery: low-intensity, low-impact exercises. An example is stretching as part of a cool-down routine.
- Passive recovery: a complete cessation of exercise. A scheduled recovery day is key.
- Sleep recovery: good sleeping habits promote recovery. The body does most of its repair work during sleep and is key to improving performance.
- Myofascial release: soft tissue therapy, which releases sore muscles. Foam rolling is a good example.
Cross-training is a form of active recovery. By switching up the workout, the athlete engages different muscles, giving other tissues more time to recover.
Nutrition’s Role in Recovery
Protein isn’t the only nutrient people should think about to recover from a hard workout.
- Collagen is important for healthy muscles and bones. A collagen supplement could be a good idea for some people.
- Vitamin C does more than keep germs at bay. It helps the body make collagen, so be sure to get the right mix of fruits and veggies.
- Zinc helps the body heal wounds, and it’s a key part of many enzymes and proteins used in tissue growth. Find it in nuts, seeds and shellfish.
Nutrition is also important in the sense that it can help restore the body’s equilibrium. People lose more than water when they sweat. They also lose electrolytes, like sodium and potassium. After a sweaty workout session, some athletes may need to restore their electrolyte balance. Eating a banana could help deliver potassium and needed sugar.
Sports drinks will deliver sodium, but they also come loaded with sugar. Look for one that has a higher sodium content. Most people won’t need a sports drink unless they’ve been working out for more than an hour or worked out in a very hot environment.
Controlling inflammation is also key to restoring the body’s balance. Some foods are excellent anti-inflammatories. Try adding some of the following:
- Cherries and cherry juice can help the body remove waste products and reduce inflammation. They also have potassium.
- Spices like turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon all have anti-inflammatory properties.
Other herbs, like lavender, are noted for their ability to relax and soothe sore muscles. Add some to a bath, or try Epsom salts. Another alternative is to use a cream or balm.
Cannabis: Another Piece of the Recovery Puzzle
Those seeking better fitness should also consider cannabis. Many elite athletes incorporate it into their post-workout routines to help them recover. Research suggests several ways cannabis can help in the recovery process.
Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are effective pain-relievers. They can ease sore muscles after an intense workout. Since they both have anti-inflammatory properties, they can also relieve swelling. Effective pain relief can also help people get much-needed sleep.
There has been some research into the use of cannabis to control appetite. Cannabis could help people get their post-workout nutrition during the recovery period. Exercise can decrease appetite in the short term, so cannabis could counteract this.
Finally, cannabis can also reduce nausea, which can be caused by intensive workouts.
Get Started on the Right Foot with Great Products
CBD Product Picks
This hemp sports massage oil is perfect for soft tissue recovery at home or on the massage table. It soothes aches and pains while encouraging muscle recovery after an intense day of training.
Give a powerful boost to pre-, mid-, and post-workout nutrition with this wholefood hemp powder. Hemp packs a powerful nutritional punch, and it’s easy to add to protein shakes and smoothies. Or simply sprinkle on yogurt or cereal for a nutritious way to start the day.
Power up Post-Workout Recovery with THC and CBD
Athletes love these gummies for a blend of CBD and THC that fights inflammation and post-workout pain. It doesn’t hurt that they taste great too.
Soak away sore muscles with Papa & Barkley’s signature organic blend. THC and CBD combine with Dead Sea salt to reduce inflammation, relieve pain and relax the mind. Soak hands or feet for targeted relief, or climb into a bath for a full-body experience.
Is It More than Muscle Pain?
Sometimes, sore muscles and other pains can indicate more serious injuries or conditions. If pain seems to linger on or is more severe than usual, it’s time to consult with a doctor. Medical cannabis physicians are available right now. The right advice could help you get back on your feet sooner.