Oct 022012
 

I don’t think I’ve ever really discussed the importance of after care when it comes to fitness. It’s such an important factor in recovery, healthy living and weight loss. I think it’s also misunderstood a lot. I am definitely guilty of ignoring the benefits of after care and have paid for it with extra sore muscles and even injury. Here are some things we should all remember after a good, hard workout, myself included.

EAT

If you CAN eat a meal within 30-45 minutes of your activity, do so. Often times that’s not feasible so try to have a snack, some protein and carbs are good. Restoring glucose in your body is what helps prevent sore muscles and speeds recovery.

“Your post-workout meal should be reflective of the intensity and duration of your workout. Healthy post-workout snacks within 30 minutes of training are most important after longer, moderate-to-high intensity workouts. This helps replace glycogen stores, repair muscle tissue, and prepare you for the next training session. Long- or short-duration exercise that is low in intensity doesn’t necessitate a recovery snack/meal. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a carb intake of 0.7g/lb of body weight and 10-20 grams of lean protein post-workout. (from Workout Nirvana)

You can read more from the lovely Suzanne at Workout Nirvana. After her workouts, Suzanne has a banana and a protein shake. She also recommended this article.

When I work out after work, I go home and eat dinner almost immediately. When I bike to and from work, I have a glass of chocolate milk when I get home because it’s usually 1-2 hours before I have dinner. A glass of chocolate milk  does wonders. I mean, chocolate milk is basically the same as that muscle milk stuff but without the creepy chemicals! Chocolate milk is also a good post-activity snack if you have difficulty eating food right after a workout.

“After you work out, your glycogen stores become depleted. Skipping your post-workout snack can cause prolonged soreness as well as premature muscle fatigue. This is caused by incomplete glycogen restoration (LIVESTRONG)”

Some other good snack ideas:

Peanut butter and a banana – protein in the PB and sugar in the banana…perfect. (But remember, bananas should be eaten after a workout, not before. Learn from my mistake!)

Apple and cheese – I like having an apple with an 80 calorie string cheese. The apple has  glycogen-replenishing carbs. And they are tasty and low in calories.

Protein shake – Kind of self-explanatory.

Dried Apricots – I discovered this awesome little trick when I was searching for a snack that would keep me from crashing after intense workouts. I only need 3-4 dried apricots and it gets me through the famished-frenzy until I’m home and can eat real food.

What is your favorite post-workout snack? 

WATER

This is often where I fall short, but I am doing much better. Drinking water will help reduce soreness. Drink, drink, drink! Then drink some more!

FOAM ROLLER

I LOVE my foam roller.  I use it almost every day. This is probably the most important piece of “exercise equipment” that I own! What is a foam roller? The one I have is a super dense foam that is kind of like getting a deep tissue massage. As a runner, I’ve used the foam roller for my IT band too many times to count. It feels and HURTS so good!

It’s a great thing to have if you are a runner or a cyclist, but honestly I’ve used my foam roller more after a heavy weight lifting session. When I wake up the next day and my quads and hamstrings are crying because of squats and lunges from the day before, I go straight for my foam roller. Michael uses it too and I even got my mom into it. I think I even sent her one for her birthday one year. I recommend it to everyone who does any kind of fitness. And trust me, the harder the better. Definitely go for the DENSE foam. It won’t do much if it’s soft. Check out this article for more uses for the foam roller. Seriously, it was the best $15 I ever spent for an exercise item!

ICE

If you have some soreness in your knees, legs, wherever, try an ice pack for 15-20 minutes after the activity to prevent/reduce inflammation. A lot of runners I know do ice baths after long runs. I tried to do that after Hood to Coast and it was too brutal for me. (Anyone have a tip to make ice baths more pleasant??)

Good god, looking at those pictures!! But if you can stand it, do it! I found this article on how to take an ice bath. I’m still too scared to try it.

STRETCH

I learned my lesson with my running injury years ago. Stretching is a very important part of a workout. I neglected it a lot when I was running and I paid for it with my injury. Yoga is a good thing to add to your routine. It would be a good thing to add to my routine, as well. I struggle with this. I try my best but it’s just not something I like to do. Well, to be fair, I like yoga once I’m in the class and doing it and I always feel better afterwards…it’s the motivating myself to go to class I have a hard time with. I have incorporated a lot of the yoga moves into my stretching routine, though.

And don’t forget REST DAYS.

Take Care of Yourself

A few other things I rely on heavily for my aftercare: Biofreeze (I love love love it!) and my compression tights. Michael bought them for me for Christmas a few years ago and I love them so much. It feels so good to wear them after a hard workout. I also have compression socks, which I wear more often than regular socks.

It’s so easy to just go about like normal and assume everything is okay until BAM! Injury! It’s happened to me a few times. I feel great, my body is good, my performance is the best it’s ever been, and then of course, something happens and I have to take a break. Breaks suck. I wish I could be a good patient when I’m injured but it honestly just stresses me out and I get impatient. I need to learn to take care of myself. Even if it’s a hassle to take the extra time to stretch, or foam roll, it’s so worth it. So take care of yourself!

QUESTION: What are your after care tips and tricks you do?

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Sep 012011
 
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Wednesday morning I had an early appointment before work. The plan was to head to the gym before my appointment, then I realized last week my membership was expiring. I decided to go anyway and see if I could work out despite it being lapsed. At the very least ask the salesperson trying to get me to sign up if I could have one more morning to workout before “making a decision” on the gym membership (snicker).

I got up early, had a snack (English Muffin) and headed to the gym. When I got to the gym there was no one at the counter where I checked in and no salespeople lurking in the sales area. I saw the usual counter girl, whom I really like and chat with, helping some other people. She said “Hi Lisa!” and waved. I waved back and decided–hey, no one at the counter……why not?? Sure it was sneaky. Technically I wasn’t a member anymore. But…..yeah, I don’t feel guilty.

First up: treadmill. I haven’t run since last Saturday when my run was cut short with a calf cramp. The cramp had gone away–I was able to swim on Sunday and bike 24 miles on Monday with no issues. I thought I was okay by Wednesday. I started slow and felt okay.


I got sucked into an episode of Supernatural (yum yum) and was enjoying the empty gym in the early morning hours. Then about 3/4 into my first mile my right calf started to cramp AGAIN. UGH. I slowed to a walk for about a minute then decided to try and run through the cramp. It was my last chance to use the gym and I was just tired of this cramping business.

I was able to run it out and finish my run but my leg still feels cramped up. I have no idea what is causing it. I foam roll, I eat healthy, drink water, stretch….what’s up?? Runners: give me advice!


Run Stats:
Time: 50 minutes
Distance: 3.75 miles


Not a bad distance despite my calf discomfort. I really wish this cramp would knock it off already. If I’m going gym-free for awhile I’ll be spending more time running.


After my run I limped down the stairs to the weight room and did my last weight session at the gym. Sad face. Felt sad. Sure I can buy some free weights to do at home but it’s just not the same.


I spent a good amount of time using the plated weight machines for chest and back since I won’t have access to them. Then I finished up with the free weights. I’ve noticed that I’ve lost a LOT of my strength since taking a month off from weight lifting.


Finally, I spent some time doing some ab work and then did a LOT of stretching. I ended my workout with the foam roller–paying extra attention to my stupid calf muscles. Ugh.


Gym Stats:
Time: 1:33
Calories Burned: 778


I hurried home to shower and eat before my appointment. I put on some muscle rub to see if that would help my calf.


For breakfast I scrambled 2 eggs with chopping red onion, 1 slice of ham chopped and topped with salsa, sour cream and beans. It was a big breakfast but exactly what I needed after a killer workout.

I was hungry in an hour.

Whenever I work out in the morning before work, I am a total bottomless pit the rest of the day. It doesn’t matter if I bring enough food to work to eat throughout the day, or if I eat good, filling foods–I am still starving.

I had leftover pizza for lunch (mmm carbs) and was still hungry. Ate a hard boiled egg as a snack. That took the edge off, then I was hungry again. Stupid hunger!

QUESTION: What’s the deal with my calf cramping?

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