When your workout is over...you still aren’t finished. In fact, the most important part of your workout comes after you put down the dumbbells: recovery.
Sure, you can spend a lot of money to reboot muscles and soothe soreness, by stocking up on specialty foods and drinks, investing in top-of-the-line foam rollers, even hiring a personal massage therapist. But the quickest and most effective tools for recovery might be sitting in your own home, right now. Here are eight ways to amp up your recovery routine without stepping outside your front door.
Soothe sore muscles
Sore back after all those deadlifts? Dig a tennis ball out of the garage. Put it between your back muscles and a flat wall, and roll out all your knots like a bear rubbing against a tree. The harder you press your back against the tennis ball, the more deep-tissue action you’ll get. If one spot is really killing you, press down and hold for thirty seconds until you feel the tension loosening.
Remember your feet
Feet often get the short end of the stick when it comes to recovery—who remembers to stretch out their arches when there are IT bands screaming for a cooldown? But your feet go through a lot every time you hit the gym, so don’t forget them. Got a golf ball? Put one under your tired foot and roll it on the floor: back and forth and then side to side, focusing on the areas that hold the most tension.
Have a bit of salt
After a good sweat session, your body loses a fair amount of salt, so if you’re craving potato chips after the gym, that’s why. You’ve just depleted salts that are essential for regulating heartbeat, nerve function, and muscle contractions. But you don’t have to reach for a bag of junk food—stir a little mineral-rich pink Himalayan salt into your lemon water for a homemade electrolyte drink, or sprinkle flakes of Maldon on a slab of avocado toast topped with a runny egg.
Rehydrate your inner kid
Hopefully, you’ve been drinking water throughout your workout because now it’s time for a drink that’s a bit more exciting: chocolate milk. Experts call it the perfect recovery drink because of its ideal ratio of carbs to protein. Also, milk’s full of calcium, which is great for your bones—an important perk for fans of high-impact workouts.
Roll yourself out like bread
When you work out, you actually tear muscle fiber. That sounds bad, but it’s actually a good thing because rebuilding those tiny tears is how muscles grow stronger and denser. To maximize the process, you need to increase the blood flow to the muscles during your post-workout recovery period. You can do this with a foam roller, but if you don’t have one at home, you can get the same effect with a rolling pin from the kitchen (yes, really). Grab it by the handles, and, well, treat your calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes like bread dough.
Cool down (literally)
After stretching and massaging, if something still seems unduly sore, put an ice pack on the problem area or sit yourself down in a nice cold bath. But don’t torture yourself: ten minutes at a time is enough.
Sleep on your back
After leg day, try not to sleep on your stomach. When you’re sleeping on your belly, the top of your foot is stretched out, which means your calf muscle will be contracted all night long. That position has the potential to make your legs sore all the way to your toes—and potentially aggravate plantar fasciitis, which has derailed many an athlete for months at a time.
Eyeball your mattress
Our top recovery tip? Sleep—and sleep well. If you don’t get deep, restorative sleep, you’ll end up depleted physically and mentally. At MOLECULE, we’ve designed our mattresses to have precision-contoured 3D surfaces that provide self-adjusting support for different parts of your body. Even better, both of our models are covered in a material that regulates core body temperature, keeping your muscles the right degree of cool. Sleeping on our mattress may just be the easiest part of recovery: after a long day at the office and then the gym, all you have to do now is lay down and dream.