Whether you run, lift, bike, CrossFit, practice yoga, swing kettlebells, or something that we just didn’t mention (because it’s just not possible to include every kind of exercise), you’re no stranger to the aches and pains that accompany any workout regimen.
And if you’re pursuing a holistic approach to healing, you’ve probably eliminated most over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription medicines as possible recovery options.
There are, however, things that you can try to alleviate the side-effects of training and get you set for your next workout.
Hydrate, and then, Rehydrate
Drinking a lot of water may seem so ridiculously obvious that it’s not worth mentioning, but there’s a reason that water consumption is included in nearly every fitness article: hydration is important and not enough people do it properly.
Water will assist in flushing toxins from your muscles — toxins that can increase the severity of your soreness.
Whether you set your water intake at three or four quarts per day or you use a formula, like .6 ounces for every pound you weigh, you need to adjust upward for the sweat that you lose during training. And while you shouldn’t have this problem if you’re truly following a naturopathic diet, increase your water consumption if you ingest diuretics, like caffeine or alcohol.
Stretch After Your Workouts
Of course, you should warm up and stretch before your workouts, but opening up your muscles after a hard hour of contracting them is also beneficial in mitigating soreness.
When you train, your muscles contract. That’s actually the entire job of a muscle: to contract when you need to move a body part that’s attached to it. By stretching the muscle tissue after a series of contractions, you increase the blood flow, bringing vital nutrients back into the cells. If you’re pressed for time, at least try to stretch the parts most affected by your workout: hamstrings and calves after running, chest and shoulders after bench press, et cetera.
Yoga, which already requires you to stretch, may be the only exception to the post-workout stretch rule.
Eat a Recovery Diet
If you’ve eliminated things like Advil and heat ointments from your life, you’ve probably also made a move towards eating healthier, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your diet is well suited for workout recovery.
Clinical studies show that a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce inflammation.
And the good news is that it’s not hard to incorporate these even into vegan, vegetarian, and paleo diets. A few examples of Omega-3 fatty acid foods are flaxseed, walnuts, peanut butter, many types of fish, and eggs. You may not allow all of the Omega-3 foods into your diet, but you’ll surely have room for some of them.
Get Regular Massages or Roll Out Your Knots
A massage after every workout sounds great, but unless your partner is an LMT, it’s both cost and time prohibitive. A less expensive alternative is to buy a muscle roller. (Usually less expensive than a single massage.)
When you or someone else massages your muscles, it reduces the occurrence of a chemical compound called cytokines, which cause inflammation. It also stimulates the cells’ mitochondria, which can accelerate healing.
Alternative Medicines that You May Not Have Considered
Depending on the severity and frequency of your muscle fatigue and the availability of medical cannabis derivatives in your state, you may want to consider CBD oil, which can be consumed orally or using a cannabis vaporizer. Many athletes are incorporating CBD oil into their workout regimens because it offers the therapeutic qualities of cannabis without the mood altering qualities.
Studies show that CBD oil reduces inflammation, alleviates pain, promotes muscle growth via weight gain, and works as a sleep aid.
Ultimately, It’s the Results that Matter
If you live a healthy lifestyle and you exercise on the regular, you’re going to suffer occasional muscle strain or soreness. It’s inevitable. Your goal should be getting back to training as soon as it’s safely possible.
Not all of these solutions will fit your particular expression of a naturopathic lifestyle, but a little change here and there could pay noticeable dividends the morning after a hard day of training. Give them a shot and see what works.