Rest and Repairing Muscles After a Workout
The human body has an amazing ability to adapt to the stress placed on it over time. If you haven’t run a mile in three years, your legs will feel like jelly and your lungs will be on fire the first time you try. However, if you keep running that mile every other day, in a few weeks you’ll hardly break a sweat. That’s because your heart, lungs, and muscles have actually gotten stronger as a result of the work you put them under.
Whenever you perform a challenging workout, you put your muscles under a lot of stress and cause many microtears in the muscle fibers. This sounds like a bad thing, but it’s actually the process your muscles use to get stronger.
Known as hypertrophy, this process starts with myofibrils, which are threadlike cellular structures made of protein that enables muscles to function. Think of it like a cable that has several smaller cables inside that gives it strength. When myofibrillar hypertrophy occurs, there is an increase in the size and amount of these “cables” within the muscle fibers. This is what causes an increase in the force of muscle contraction. Basically, when the fibers tear, they rebuild, and come back stronger and do more (like allow you to lift heavier weights or run for a longer timespan). However, your body will need to take a break in order to accomplish this.
As long as you give your body adequate time to rest, your muscles will repair themselves and be stronger than ever. This can mean taking the day off from exercising, or exercising a different part of the body (such as an upper body workout, instead of a lower body workout). If you don’t rest, your muscles may suffer from overtraining which can lead to struggling with workouts, a loss of strength and stamina, poor sleep, fatigue, strange aches and pains, and even getting sick more often. Rest is a crucial part of the equation to get stronger and improve your fitness, so don’t overlook it.
Proper nutrition is also important for muscle recovery. Good nutrition that includes protein and healthy carbohydrates can go a long way. A post-workout recovery meal could include eggs, salmon, cottage cheese, sweet potatoes, and whole grains such as quinoa. You can also help boost your recovery with Bliss in a Bottle, an all-natural spray that supports joint and muscle recovery. It’s a perfect companion for new, intermediate, and serious athletes.