I just wanted to post some things that I do to avoid my body from feeling too worn out after long exercises. Some of these are even helpful when I am only doing my routine exercises.
The first thing I do when I am done with a long run or an intense workout is replenish my body with some calories. While some will hear this and think that this type of thing will ruin their weight loss goals, let me assure you that this will actually increase your over all results. The goal here is to put some good calories back into your muscles so that they can recover better. This should be done within 30 minutes of when your workout is over, the sooner the better. It should be noted that if you are going for longer than an hour your body will need some accessible calories on hand so that you don’t bonk! This is why you see runners eat those gels, or eat something during a long run. Gatorade alone will not cut it! I usually will eat a piece of bread or have some clif shot blocks (just found out about these through a friend, and they are good!) around the first 45 minutes into my run. The calories burned rate vs. the calories consumed rate is still enough that I still lose weight. For example if I were to burn 1000 calories, eating 200-300 calories will not hurt my progress. Your muscles need energy, starving yourself is not a good idea. A favorite of mine to have right after a run is a smoothie consisting of:
6 oz skim milk (soy milk also works)
1 cup of blueberries
6-8 oz of Greek yogurt (I usually use vanilla flavored)
Blend together and you have great carbohydrates and protein on hand for your body to use as recovery fuel. This is no more than 300 calories, but really makes a difference when I use it. I like to have these after my routine runs as well.
By doing so you will notice that your muscles don’t ache as bad, and that your recovery time will go down. I promise you that starving yourself will only bring frustration, and injury. Please do not do it!
The next best thing for me after a long tiring workout is to take an ice bath. Yes I said that right an ICE bath. When your muscles have worked hard, they tend to inflame. Soaking your body, in a cold bath (50 degrees) will help prevent too much inflammation from occurring. I usually just soak myself from my lower back down to my toes. The first few seconds feel too cold, but after a few seconds it feels really nice! I like to drink my smoothie, stretch out, put on a warm hat and than get into the cold water. I usually stay in for about 20 minutes, for me this seems to be a good time. Some may start out with less time and will still feel the relief. Just make sure that you don’t stay in for too long.
I usually stretch out after a workout only out of habit. However research has shown us that stretching does not always insure against tightness and soreness. Massaging your muscles is a great way to feel relief. This method has been used by some in place of stretches. Only you can determine what you feel like works for you. I like to sometimes use a softball to roll around on my legs, or a stiff walled water bottle (like a nalgene) to slide across certain muscle groups. Sometimes using a stiff water bottle you can put in hot or cold water to get the temperature effects.
There are many other ideas out there but these are my primary resources. They have really helped me recover faster, and I feel like I have prevented a lot of injuries because of them.