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The Science Behind Exercise Recovery

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

science recovery

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  • Although you may have pushed yourself to the limit in your workout, muscle building doesn’t start until the recovery phase, which you may impact by staying appropriately hydrated, using whey protein and steering clear of anti-inflammatory medications
  • Overtraining may result in injury, illness and poor performance; you may reduce your risk by paying attention to your body’s signals, improving your post-workout recovery routine and incorporating rest days in your workout schedule
  • Inflammation is one way your body transports necessary nutrients to damaged muscles, but you may help reduce post-workout soreness using Epsom salts baths, ice baths or a foam roller to lengthen muscles and perform myofascial release
  • A strong post-workout recovery program will include active recovery on your hard workout days, finishing with light movement, quality sleep and parasympathetic breathing techniques to slow your sympathetic nervous system and improve muscle growth

You might have pushed yourself to the limit in your workout today, and although it was tough, you didn't build any muscle, because muscle growth actually begins after you stop lifting, running or rowing. You can enhance growth by using proper recovery protocols. Prioritizing your post-workout recovery will help you get the most from every workout and help your body begin to repair.

Additionally, using a post-workout recovery protocol will reduce second and third day post-workout soreness and fatigue. Although there are methods promising you'll get over your muscle soreness in a hurry, feeding right in to Western societies desire for a quick fix, a more sustained and holistic approach will garner better results.


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