After Care

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?

Another Try at Acupuncture

Remember the negative experience I had with my first acupuncture treatment? I was reluctant to give it another try but recently bought a Living Social deal for a local place and thought it was only fair to try again.


I went to the Pearl Health Center in the Pearl District downtown. My acupuncturist was named Michelle and I liked her quite a bit. She was calming, understanding and friendly. She was also a runner so that was good to hear. We went over some of the things I wanted treated–my insomnia, anxiety and stress, plus the physical issues I’ve had with my IT Band and my sacrum (which I reinjured recently).


Unlike my first experience where it was a group setting, this was a private room. I was much more comfortable. She had me undress and wear a hospital gown and lay face down. There was dim light, relaxing music and she put a heat lamp near me to keep me warm. She put in the needles in and it was a comfortable, easy experience. There were only two spots that I FELT when she put the needles in and one was in my IT Band. Ouch.


She also put the Tens device on my sacrum (my lower back). It’s a nerve stimulation supposed to work out the kinks and it felt fantastic. It was like tiny electric shocks alternative with vibrations and tiny taps on my back. It felt so great. She left the room for about 40 minutes and I fell dead asleep. I don’t even remember falling asleep. She finished up the 90 minute session with stretching my lower back. She showed me a few new stretches that felt awesome and painful at the same time.

She also suggested that I try the Nike Myrtl Routine (a 12 step pelvic girdle stretch) stretches 3 times a week. I’m definitely going to check it out and incorporate what I can into my normal stretches. I will definitely take her advice because she’s a runner, and she said her sister is training for her fourth Ironman. I felt like she knew what she was talking about.

I got home, feeling groggy–like that post-massage fog–and made leftovers for dinner. Michael made guacamole to go with our dinner.


Over the weekend I had made some easy enchiladas with leftover ground turkey meat. I had two enchiladas left so I reheated that for our dinner. I’m glad we had leftovers because I felt so uninspired to fix something!


Inside the enchilada: ground turkey meat, black olives, black beans, cheese, onions. Yum! I love enchiladas and using leftovers is even better. I added a few chopped tomatoes leftover from the garden to the top.


After dinner we watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead and I played with Fat Kitty! He was on fire and full of energy! He made me laugh and I needed a good chuckle.


He is so cute I can’t take it. 🙂 Oh and I made him dance to “Pumped Up Kicks.” It was hilarious. Fat Kitty kinda looked like one of the zombies from the Thriller video. Michael teased me because apparently everyone makes their cats dance? I had never done it before. It cracked me up!

QUESTION: What is your experience with acupuncture?