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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Aug 162011
 
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Monday was a decent day for a Monday. I met my good friend Star to get pedicures. It was so needed. The pampering (and vibrating chair) felt great. I got my toes done in hot pink–not my usual color but I thought I’d do something different for a change. After our pedicures we went back to the house and Michael and I made her dinner. We’ve been telling her about our favorite steak dinner for awhile now and she was dying to try it.


Yep, it’s our steak with caramelized onions and Gorgonzola cheese. As a side we baked zucchini strips with a little grapeseed oil, salt, pepper and topped with grated Parmesan cheese.


Dinner was a success. Star said it was the BEST steak she’s ever had in her entire life. Fat Kitty was dying for a bite.


He was so persistent! He doesn’t really like people food (except fish and shrimp) but he thinks he does.

"I WANT SOME!"

I marinated the steak all day long: Worcestershire sauce, balsamic, salt, pepper, splash of soy sauce, freshly sliced garlic, fresh rosemary from the garden and onion powder. So good!


Remember how it’s taper week and I was going to avoid dessert and alcohol? Yeah, that didn’t happen on Monday. The car trouble Michael was having this weekend was not good news and we were both mentally and physically tired. There’s no excuse for me giving in. Michael was going to drink wine no matter what because of the bad news but I could have said no. I didn’t. I had half a glass of red wine with dinner. I didn’t have seconds though. Then I had dessert. Major fail.


I had one of the Trader Joe’s mini ice cream cones. It was 70 calories and I only had one, so there wasn’t calorie damage done for my day. But I am disappointed that I gave in to two of my vices when I’m supposed to be avoiding them this week. The only good news to report: I did not eat any chocolate or candy at work. At all!


Mr. Goofball was back at it. He wanted tons of attention (I think it’s because Star spoils him so much :) ). He was full of it all night.


So what are these phantoms I’m talking about? Phantoms pains–the worst part of Tapering. I hate them so much. My mind can convince me that I am totally injured for no reason. My lower back has been bugging me. Not enough to really be anything, more of like a dull ache. It feels like cramps–but not the right time for them. I don’t know what’s up with that. Is it real? Is it in my head? Am I totally injured and going to be ruined for Sunday’s race? UGH!

I had dreams all night of injured body parts. One specifically was a dream about how I saw a doctor and she said my hips were the problem. I tossed and turned all night, waking up feeling uncomfortable in the lower back and hips. I was hoping I’d wake up cured but I didn’t. The ache is still there and it’s stressing me out. I’m using the foam roller like mad and stretching a lot. I think I’ll try to hit a yoga class this week too.

QUESTION: What do you do about phantom pains?

 

 

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