Most people who enjoy working out and who do it regularly have a consistent routine. They know what works for them and their bodies, and how to achieve the results they’re working towards. Whether its strength training, cardio, yoga, weight lifting or a combination of different forms of exercise, it’s easy to find reliable information on what to do after a workout in a safe and effective way.
What can be a bit harder to figure out is how to wind down after a workout. You want to enjoy the endorphins that have been released, without having to worry about crashing later in the day. Or, if you workout in the evenings, to keep yourself from being too amped up to relax and fall asleep.
Here are some of our tips for how to unwind after a workout. Combine them and add your own to create a post-workout routine that works best for you and your lifestyle.
Anyone who has decided that stretching is too much effort or just unnecessary has probably regretted the feeling of tightness the next morning. Stretching is essential to feeling good before and after a workout, and most of us take for granted that stretching should be included in a workout schedule. It’s shocking to realise how recent this development is, though – in the 1990s, when Arsène Wenger insisted his players stretch, he was seen as a bit of an eccentric.
Even if you’re not a professional footballer, you’ll be able to feel the benefits of stretching at the end of a workout. Dynamic stretches, where you move throughout to increase range of motion, have become more popular in recent years but static stretches are still seen as the best choice for cooling down after a workout.
Take a mental break too
For many people, workouts have to fit in around our busy schedules. We may not always have the time to centre ourselves and focus before and after a workout. Giving yourself a few minutes to unwind mentally after a workout is important to continuing your day on the right foot.
By taking a short break to do something you enjoy, like pausing to play at an online casino, you reset your mind post-workout – just like how your workout has reset your body. If mobile games aren’t your thing, there are lots of mindfulness apps to try, or focused activities such as journaling or sketching.
What we put in our bodies has a huge effect on what we are able to do and how much muscle we are able to gain. Without the right fuel, we can’t function at our highest level. A post-workout protein shake is a great way to unwind after a workout, while giving your body what it needs to recover and be ready to do it all again tomorrow.
Protein shakes that contain casein or a vegan protein that has a similarly slow digestion rate are an ideal choice. While it might be easiest to just gulp down a premade shake or a simple protein powder and water blend, actually mixing up a shake can become a part of your unwinding routine. Recipes like these blender breakfast ideas are a great way to get the nutrients you need without it feeling like a chore.
Heat helps to reduce muscle soreness and ease any tension in your body. It can also help you to feel more relaxed as you move into the next phase of your day. If you’re at the gym – or fortunate enough to have one in your home – spending 10-15 minutes in the hot tub or sauna after your workout is ideal. At home, a short soak in a hot bath is a perfect substitute.
Work it out
A professional massage after every workout isn’t realistic but that doesn’t mean you can’t work your muscles yourself to get a similar effect. Tightening, holding for 10 seconds and then releasing the muscles you’ve worked is a great way to tell your body it’s time to unwind. You can also simply massage any sore muscles that you can reach yourself.
A foam roller is a great tool that lets you feel like you’ve had a professional massage, after just a short routine. When used correctly, foam rollers can reduce soreness, reduce inflammation and increase blood flow. They’re as useful for relaxing after a workout as they are for helping with injury recovery.
If you’re feeling decadent, there are even some foam rollers with heating pads and muscle vibrators built right in.