5 ways to speed up your muscle recovery

20 April 2017 by
First published: 5 April 2016

Starting a workout program or taking your current fitness program to the next level can be challenging. Making the time to exercise, creating a balanced routine, and setting goals are hard enough, but add to that the muscle soreness that comes with adapting to that regime, and you may be difficult to stay on track.

After participating in some kind of strenuous physical activity, particularly something new to your body, it is common to experience muscle soreness. What you’re feeling anywhere from 12 to 48 hours after a workout is something specialists refer to as DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It’s also the stuff that’s got you dreading stairs and struggling to lift your arms to wash your hair in the shower.

Rest and recovery are critical components of any successful training program. But did you know that they are also the least planned and underused ways to enhance performance?

Rest is a combination of sleep and time spent not training, while recovery refers to techniques and actions taken to maximise your body’s repair.

Here are a few easy ideas to help you increase your recovery rate and get you performing better


Sleep is the most important time to recover. Adequate levels of sleep help to balance   mental health and your hormones, plus aid muscular recovery. You need to get enough sleep, which is between seven and ten hours, however everyone has individual needs based on their lifestyle, workouts, and genetics.


Yup, you guessed it: drink more water! Drinking adequate amounts of water is critical to health, energy, recovery, and performance. It also helps to lower levels of stress on the heart, improve your skin tone, and gives better hair quality. So drink up!


Everything you eat has the ability to help heal your body, or to poison it. Eating clean and balanced meals in moderation is proven to be effective to keep you healthy and increase performance. Dairy and wheat are processed differently by everyone and you need to educate yourself on these topics, and how they personally affect you. Some people process these food items very well and have no side effects, while other people have slight to severe autoimmune reactions.  Get to listen to your body.


This one’s completely underrated…

You need enough flexibility to move well and remain free from pain. Include dynamic stretching in your warm-ups, while saving static stretching for after your workouts.

Hot/cold treatments

Studies have shown alternating cold with hot to be highly effective in promoting both circulation and muscle recuperation, so apply an ice pack for 15 minutes, followed by a heat pack for another 15, and back again. But, as a general rule, in the case of injury, heat therapy should not be used for the first 48 hours, as this will have the opposite effect of cold therapy. Heat increases blood flow and relaxes muscles. It’s good for easing tight muscles, but will only increase the pain and swelling in the first 48 hours after injury by accelerating metabolism. Instead apply the R.I.C.E. (Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation) method at this point. Always consult your doctor or physician in the event of serious injury, or when using heat therapy for a medical condition.

In short, muscle soreness is inevitable and you can’t beat it. We are yet to figure out a way to wipe out DOMS, and maybe that’s a good thing. After all, it is the body’s signal to your brain that it needs a rest. It is important that you listen to your body when its giving you those ‘REST ME’ signals.