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January 9, 2008

Top 10 Ways To Relax Muscles

By Dana Laurier

So you went to the gym after a month’s hiatus and decided that you would jump right into it and lift as hard and as heavy as you always do? Or better yet, you ran on the treadmill for an hour straight and felt pretty smug about having pulled it off?

Well, if you’re like most others, your body hates you for it right now, and it shows because you can barely get yourself out of bed to take a shower.

In order to reap the full benefits of any workout, you need to allow your muscles time to rest, relax and recover. Without this phase, all your hard work will be for naught.

So check out the top ways you can relax muscles and put this on your list of things to do after every workout.

Ways to relax muscles #10
I know you’re sore and the last thing you want to do is stretch the very muscles that are aching, but you need to stretch them statically if you want to heal more quickly.

That said, never stretch in a ballistic way, that is, do not bounce when you stretch. For example, if your hamstrings ache, lie on the floor and reach for your toes, but do not, at any point bounce back and forth; this may cause serious injury.

Try to get into the stretch position and hold it for a period of 15 to 30 seconds. Your body will thank you for it.

Ways to relax muscles #9

Sending oxygen to your muscles is very important and there’s no better way to do that than by taking deep, consistent breaths. Most people do not realize that how shallow their breathing is throughout the day, and many still don’t breathe properly when working out.

When you get home every day, take a few minutes to breathe deeply. Sit in a comfortable position and inhale slowly to a 10 count, pause for a second and exhale for a slow 10 count. Repeat this 10 times.

This will help oxygenate your muscles and speed up recovery.

Ways to relax muscles #8
Spread out

We spend so much of our time upright, making it difficult for the blood to easily travel to the parts that need it most after a tough workout. But by lying on the floor, you can change all that.

Lie down in an area where you can spread out your limbs as though to make a snow angel. Tense up your muscles and reach for the walls with your arms and feet. Hold the tension for about 10 seconds, then release. Repeat this 10 times.

Ways to relax muscles #7
Take a hot shower

Sometimes, there’s nothing more soothing than having the bathroom all to yourself and steaming it up with a nice, steaming hot shower. When you’re in the shower, take the time to lightly rub the tight areas of your body.

The heated water will increase blood flow and help more oxygen travel to your muscle, thus speeding up the healing process.

Ways to relax muscles #6
Do light cardio

I know it sounds ridiculous considering this may have been what got you into this mess in the first place, but light cardio exercise can actually help your efforts and help your muscles heal.

If possible, try to get this out of the way right after an intense workout. It will not only help increase blood flow throughout your body; it’ll also prevent drastic muscle stiffness.

Ways to relax muscles #5
Take magnesium
Keeping a handful of almonds or peanuts with you is as good as gold when it comes to muscle stiffness. Both types of nuts are rich in magnesium, which aids in signaling the nerves to relax and contract.

If nuts aren’t your cup of tea, opt instead to take a supplement (270 mg per day for a 130-pound woman); just keep in mind that you’d do best to take it with food otherwise you might get diarrhea.

Ways to relax muscles #4
Take a mineral salt bath

Believe it or not, mineral salts help to regulate all cellular function, especially those used to stimulate the heart muscle, the nervous system and the large skeletal muscles. So when you’re aching, a salty bath is the answer.

Fill up the bath with hot water and pour in a cup or two of mineral salts (can be found at any drugstore). Then sit yourself down and enjoy the sensation. For optimal results, lightly massage your aching body and rinse your body well afterwards.

Ways to relax muscles #3
Apply a cream
I hate to say it, but Ben-Gay is sometimes my best friend when the going gets tough. I know; it stinks and the world will know that you have it on, but you do have another choice.

Rather than go the route of minty stink, opt instead for some Aspercreme, it’s virtually odorless and is just as effective. Of course, couple this with ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) and your muscles will feel better in no time.

Ways to relax muscles #2

Nothing helps your body rejuvenate itself like adequate rest. So after a tough workout, it’s important that you get your 8 hours of sleep that night. Otherwise, you recovery might take much longer than you anticipate.

To ensure that you rest adequately, try not to eat or drink anything at least 2 hours before bed time, prepare everything for the morning after before you head to bed, and clear your room of any potential interruptions like cell phones, television and intrusive lighting (alarm clocks and the like).

Ways to relax muscles #1
Get a professional massage
Above and beyond all else, the praised professional massage will work wonders on your aching, tired body. Book an appointment today and you will be hooked for life.

Whether you opt for Swedish or deep tissue, a massage will unknot your muscles and allow for better blood circulation to areas that need it the most. Tell your massage therapist where it hurts the most and they can spend some extra time in that area.

Relax muscles, relax yourself

Usually, if you do some adequate stretching before and after your workout, you will be able to minimize muscle soreness, but most of us don’t and even when we do, it’s not long enough.

So the next best thing is learning how to deal with the muscle aches once the damage is done and, with the aforementioned tips, you should be saying goodbye to muscle aches sooner rather than later.

1 comment:

Hermione Hairpie said...

Stupid suggestions. Go watch some Oprah reruns you dimwit.


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