Experiencing sore muscles for a day or two after an intensive workout or vigorous exercise is common, especially if you are increasing your exercise intensity or starting on a new sport or exercise.
Read on to find out how to speed up muscle recovery with 3 easy steps!
Why is muscle recovery time important?
Post-workout delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a hurdle that many athletes are held back by. This delay in muscle aches or muscle pain are caused by tiny injuries (microtears) in the muscle fibres and connective tissues. Beyond restricting exercise, the pain from muscle aches can also lead to fatigue and affect the ability to carry out daily activities.
Muscle recovery has been gaining recognition in its importance to high-performing athletes or people who exercise frequently in a bid to reduce fatigue and enhance performance. Many often overlook that exercise incurs stress and inflammation to the body. Doing high-intensity workouts often without factoring in muscle recovery may result in muscle injury or muscle overuse which can be harder to recover from, and may put you off exercising completely. Inadequate recovery may also cause a decline in sleep, impaired immune function, hormonal imbalance, and neurological changes (e.g. high irritability or anxiety).
Muscle recovery is important as it creates an environment for your muscles to heal and repair those microtears sustained from exercise, and also adapts to handle future stress better. Recovery also enables your body to efficiently clear out metabolic waste (e.g. lactic acid) and allows your muscles to replenish glycogen stores.
How to speed up muscle recovery?
1) Boost with BIXEPS!
BIXEPS is a muscle recovery device developed by two NUS professors with their patented technology, Muscle Magnetic Mitohormesis. This technology provides a safe and gentle muscle activation program to speed up recovery, reduce fatigue, improve training outcomes, enhance exercise capacity, and slow down deconditioning during injuries.
BIXEPS activates the mitochondria within our cells.
Mitochondria are round to oval-shaped organelles found in the cells of the human body. Within our muscles, mitochondria produce the energy required for recovery and adaptation, through a series of chemical reactions.
They break down glucose into an energy molecule known as ATP. Cells that require a lot of energy, such as muscle cells, can contain hundreds to thousands of mitochondria. Mitochondria adapts to the energy demands placed on them, which ultimately translates to the entire system, a process known as Mitohormesis.
Consequently, the body becomes more capable of coping with increased environmental demands.
After the muscles are activated, they produce more energy to perform longer and recover faster.
The activated muscles also release myokines into the blood that exerts broad systemic effects, some include improving heart and liver function, adipose metabolism, disease resistance and mental function, and attenuating damaging systemic inflammation.
The BIXEPS Magnetic Mitohormesis machine is non-invasive and uses low-energy electromagnetic fields.
These fields act at the quantum biological level to promote mitochondrial respiration, and do not act as an inadvertent form of movement; that is, these therapeutic magnetic fields do not cause muscles to contract (no mechanical stress).
This is good as during muscle recovery, imposing more stress on the muscles may slow down recovery.
Pilot studies were conducted from 2015 to 2017 at NUS, and the BIXEPS fields were shown to improve muscle energetics encouraging faster recovery.
The treated group also saw elevated levels of muscle and bone regeneration myokines. To date, thousands have benefitted from using BIXEPS; they have experienced strength and endurance gains, and regained motor functions lost previously to injury.
2) Accelerate with Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a non-pharmaceutical therapy known to induce pain control, especially in the musculoskeletal system.
Various therapeutic effects of acupuncture are associated with central and systemic mechanisms involving the brain or autonomic nervous system as well as local effects at the acupuncture site.
Previous studies have shown that acupuncture changes the levels of neurotransmitters or hormones such as beta-endorphin, dopamine, serotonin, and cortisol; and has a specific effect on the limbic system or emotional area of the brain.
Acupuncture is an efficient treatment for all sports injuries and pain management. With continuous research and testimonials from new-age athletes, acupuncture as a form of natural sports enhancement has gained popularity over the years.
The 5 ways acupuncture can help with sports recovery, and enhance your sport performance:
1. Reduces duration of DOMS – acupuncture helps to remove microtears quickly, soothes painful muscles and significantly reduces recovery time.
2. Increases flexibility and prevents joint injuries – acupuncture done on a weak joint before exercise helps to increase joint flexibility.
3. Expedites muscle rebuilding – acupuncture speeds up removal of inflammatory materials from the muscles, which helps to expedite the rebuilding process of muscle fibres.
4. Enhances muscular strength – acupuncture stimulates muscles and increases blood circulation. The significant muscle activation is noticeable through surface electromyography results and research has also shown a significant increase in the maximum voluntary force produced from the quadriceps immediately after acupuncture.
5. Increases nutrients uptake and absorption efficiency – both acupuncture and herbal medicine work in tandem to invigorate the digestive system and allow better nutrient absorption.
With a weak digestive system, even the best quality health foods will not be absorbed efficiently.
3) Fuel up before and after workouts
Sometimes exercising on an empty stomach is the only way to squeeze in a workout before the day begins. The trend of fasted workouts has also gained popularity as ‘a way to burn fat’, and some research studies have supported this theory.
However, these studies were tightly controlled and the research participants had support and help from medical professionals to ensure their diet adheres to the training program.
Other studies have also failed to find weight-loss advantages associated with fasting and there may be more downsides.
Exercising before eating comes with a risk of “bonking” – an actual sports term of feeling lethargic or light-headed due to low blood sugar levels in the body.
There is also another risk of muscle loss. The body typically makes physical and psychological adjustments throughout the night, so if you exercise on an empty stomach in the morning, your body breaks down muscle first to adapt for the extra demands.
When your workout has reached a certain intensity or duration, the body switches to breaking down fats.
It is highly recommended to fuel up with a small pre-workout snack that has both carbohydrates and protein to maximise fat-burning. Getting nutrition plans wrong before a training session or an exercise event usually means that your potential during the workout is not optimised
Failure to fuel up or hydrate before exercise can result in an earlier onset of fatigue, reduced speed and endurance, sub-optimal body composition, skill errors, poor concentration and decision making, and possible gut upset.
A small snack will help you get through the workout comfortably and with more energy.
Recovery nutrition is equally important. Inadequate nutrition recovery can result in increased fatigue (during workout session and while at work or school), reduced performance at the next workout session, increased muscle soreness, and sub-optimal gains from the completed workout session. Rehydrating should begin soon after finishing your workout, and having a snack or meal shortly after.
The body is most effective at replacing carbohydrate and promoting muscle repair and growth in the first ~60-90min after exercise. Though this process will occur throughout the next 12-24 hours, it is good to maximise recovery in the first 60-90 minutes after exercise.
Some people may benefit from splitting their recovery into two parts with a small snack soon after exercise to kick start the recovery process followed by their next main meal to complete their recovery goals.
Specialised protein powders and recovery shakes may be useful in some situations for some people however, for many, their recovery goals can be met using regular foods and drinks.
Should I be seeing a dietitian?
If you are training for a sporting event, or if you have a metabolic disease like diabetes, we recommend speaking to an accredited dietitian to design a diet plan that suits your sporting and lifestyle needs. This will also allow you to reach your goals more effectively!
Book a holistic Sports Recovery Trial with us @ $150
Includes 1 BIXEPS trial (10 mins), 1 TCM trial (1 Consult +1 Treatment) & 1 Dietitian trial (30 min)