Muscle Recovery: A Complete Guide

by Jackie Wicks

It Takes Time

Woman resting on open field in mountainsOne of the key elements to prevent injury and maximize increases in performance is time. How much time is needed for optimal muscle recovery depends on the type and intensity of exercise.

For example, a 2007 study from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that protein synthesis was elevated for 3 days after a strenuous 60-minute one-legged exercise. The elevation in protein synthesis is an indication that muscle recovery is taking place.

This isn’t to say it takes three full days for your body to recover from an hour of exercise. Rather, it suggests that your body will continue to adapt up to three days post-exercise. If you fail to take recovery time, your body may fail to adapt as well as it could.

Recovery time may be influenced by other factors such as nutrition, sleep, and icing after a workout. DOMS can last 2 — 4 days and may require longer rest for muscles to repair to a state where they can be used without being painful.

Listen to your body. If you are too tired to do your workout, or your muscles are not recovered from previous day’s activity, then take a rest day. This rest day will probably do more good than if you pushed through.

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