A Lesson on Muscle Recovery

Hard Work. Integrity. Juice. [and a little bit of anxiety].

The intense motto (ok, I added the anxiety part) for Strive Village, one of our new favorite workout spots in Chicago. Walking into Strive for the first time was almost as scary as walking into the high school gym as a freshman with braces during the football team’s lifting session. In both situations, I was the only girl (or so I remember), I felt severely unathletic, and feelings of nausea were suddenly present. This time, I at least had my Nike Metcon DSX Flyknits instead of those Converse AllStars I thought were considered appropriate workout shoes. (And they probably were, considering my gym time in high school was mostly spent doing crunches and drooling over said football team).

Nike Metcon DSX Flyknits

At Strive (or the #Vill as they call it), I was greeted with rowdy yells of excitement and I thought, “what are these guys on? It’s 5:55AM!” Turns out, their enthusiasm for their jobs is fed off of the amazing energy flowing through the gym at all times. No matter where you turn, there is someone pushing themselves TO THE MAX. I learned quickly that you don’t come to Strive Village to be average. You come to work (really f*cking) hard.

Each workout I’ve endured at Strive has pushed me beyond the limits I thought existed. I’ve lifted heavier, run faster, and pushed harder than I ever thought was possible. I walk out feeling like I’m on top of the world because a) it’s over and b) I feel so incredibly accomplished physically.

And then...two hours later… I can’t move.

After my first workout at Strive Village, I was out of commission for three days… I’m talking zero workouts, shorter walks with my dog (sorry, Teddy), and barely lifting anything over my shoulders. While I knew I’d put my body through the ringer with a new type of training, I was sure I was doing something wrong in terms of recovery. So many people walk out of Strive Village after the same (perhaps even tougher) workout and come back two days later to do it all over again. It wasn't the workout that was wrong, it was something I was doing (or failing to do). So I started asking around - thank you to those of you that responded to my desperate cries for help on Instagram - and doing my own research. I’ve summed it up for you.

In no particular order, here are my top ten tips for recovering from a difficult workout:

Boxed Water
  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And by that, I don’t mean a 20 oz coffee or a kombucha. You need to drink water. Simple as that. (We are loving Boxed Water recently because it’s BPA-free and less harmful for the environment than plastic - we like to think we’re doing a small part to save the planet)

  2. Move the next day (in some capacity). Now I'm not suggesting you go and repeat the workout you just did, but some light exercise will help increase blood flow to your sore muscles. Try a light yoga class, hopping on the bike, enjoying a walk at a moderate pace, or head to the gym to focus on your core.

  3. Get Your Protein. Within 30 minutes of your workout, be sure you’re consuming 20-30 grams of protein. Protein helps repair muscle fibers after exercise, promotes the synthesis of new proteins, and replenishes depleted energy stores. Check our Product Page for some of our favorite kinds.

  4. Magnesium Rub. I got mine from Pressed Vibrance because I know it’s packed with ingredients I recognize: Magnesium, which aids in production of energy and protein, Arnica, which reduces swelling and provides pain relief, and Essential Oils like peppermint, rosemary, and lavender to increase circulation and relax muscles. Once I get home from my workout and hop in the shower, I rub this ALL over my body. Added bonus: it’s also deeply moisturizing.   

  5. Quality Sleep. Sleep is our body’s time to recover, replenish, repair, and rebuild—all of which are needed for optimal progress in any workout routine. 7-9 quality hours per night is ideal. Sound impossible? Check out our 10 Tips for Better Sleep.

  6. Stretch. You should already know this.

  7. Get a Massage. Not sure I really need give you an excuse to get a massage. A good deep-tissue massage will flush out toxins from the body and alleviate the soreness.

  8. Foam Roll. A way less expensive option than booking a massage, foam rolling also allows you to control exactly where the pressure is applied. If it hurts, you’re doing it right - keep going!

  9. Schedule a rest day. While we can get caught up in the idea of pushing and grinding day after day until we see results, it’s good to remember the importance of letting your body rest. When you lift weights, you’re literally tearing your muscle fibers. Rest days allow your immune system to repair and grow those muscles. Without the rest, you’re not going to reap the benefit of your hard work!

  10. Cryotherapy! Introducing my new favorite way to recover. I’ve been hitting up The CyroBar every week for the past month and have experienced some amazing results, especially when it comes to muscle recovery. If I know I’ve got a difficult workout on the books, I’ll schedule some to *freeze* later that same day. [Another option (though not as efficient and definitely more painful) is a good old ice bath].

Jeannie CryoBar

Did You Know? Cryotherapy primarily reduces inflammation in the body, thereby allowing muscles to recover more quickly, and increases the production of collagen (which you all know we love so much). But because I’m no expert, I’ll let The CryoBar tell you more about the benefits of cryotherapy...

In as short as 3 MINUTES, cyrotherapy works to:

  • RELIEVE muscle aches & pain caused by inflammation

  • REDUCE athletic recovery time & IMPROVE athletic performance

  • INCREASE metabolism & weight loss with a 500-800 caloric burn

  • DECREASE swelling and toxins in the body

  • STIMULATE collagen production for younger, tighter skin

  • IMPROVE skin conditions & blemishes like eczema, psoriasis & acne

  • INCREASE endorphins boosting mood, energy levels & libido

  • RELIEVE symptoms of depression & anxiety

  • IMPROVE your sleep & reduce fatigue

“The blood is supercharged with anti-inflammatory proteins, muscular enzymes and higher levels of oxygen. The body activates all of its natural healing abilities and releases endorphins for further protection. As a result, whole body cryotherapy is very effective for athletic recovery and muscle repair, reduction of chronic pain and inflammation, and skin health improvement through increased collagen production. Cryotherapy is not a medical procedure, but a non-invasive alternative for individuals seeking a faster recovery and improved health.”

Pretty fascinating stuff, right? I can't get enough and am completely addicted to the way it makes me feel after a tough workout like Strive Village. If you are interested in trying out Strive, The CryoBar, or BOTH, shoot us a note at fitcityblonde@gmail.com to start the conversation! 

xx, J