While America does have a rampant obesity problem, increasingly Americans are taking it upon themselves to exercise and get healthy. Part of staying healthy and in shape is building your muscles. Weight training makes you stronger, improves overall health and wellness, and could also improve your quality of life and life expectancy.
However, part of this process of upkeep on your physical well-being requires the right amount of rest and relaxation to help your muscles recover. The process of building muscles takes place after your work-out, not before. Getting the right amount of rest and treatment on your muscles is paramount to overall health and well-being.
For years people have used pills, topical creams, stretching, ice, and heat to help keep their muscles in good condition, and manage the dead feeling that comes with a hard workout. Increasingly however, those that participate in fitness are turning to Eastern practices to soothe their aching muscles after workouts, including massage and aroma therapy.
How do Muscles Rebuild?
The thing about building your muscles up, is that you actually have to tear them down to do so. Scientifically speaking, muscles rebuild when the rate of muscle breakdown is less than the rate your muscles are producing protein, or protein synthesis. By lifting weights you are increasing the rate of breakdown during your workout, but increasing your protein production for hours afterwards.
The anabolic phase is the first 45 minutes after you complete your workout. To offset the breakdown of the muscles, your body begins to produce protein at about a 3:1 ratio. When you can manage to eat something during this time, your body releases hormones that stimulate longer protein production in the affected muscles.
After the anabolic phase, where the body tries to repair the damage done to the muscle, the muscles go through a rapid growth period that can last for about 5 hours after the work-out. Finally the sustained growth period can last up to 24 hours after the work-out, depending on the intensity. Glycogen, nitrogen, and amino acid levels must be high for maximum growth. Eating carb and protein heavy foods will help sustain your muscle growth as long as possible.
Sleep is an important phase of the muscle building process however, you can actually lose muscle while you sleep if you aren’t careful. The catabolic state is when your muscles run out of protein before you go to sleep, and begins to breakdown the muscle. Eating a dietary supplement or healthy snack will help offset this breakdown.
Methods for Muscle Relaxation
In addition to getting the necessary time in at the gym and eating the right foods, you also need to get the right treatment for your muscles. There are many methods that people use to prevent or soothe sore muscles. One way to avoid sore muscles is to make sure you thoroughly stretch before any workout. However, this may not prevent them fully, especially after an intense work-out.
Some popular ways to soothe sore muscles include over-the-counter medications, like acetaminophen(Tylenol), topical creams like Icy Hot or Bengay, and the combination of applying ice and heat. The application of ice will stop the inflammation of the sore muscle, and the heat will increase blood flow to soothe pain.
Additionally, more and more people are using Eastern practices like massage therapy. Going one step further, using sites like Earthlite.com, many are getting massage tables in their homes for personal use. Having a massage table in your home can really help maximize the potential of a massage on rebuilding your muscles.
Massage therapy helps rebuild muscles by increasing blood circulation and reducing the amount of lactic acid in the muscles, which causes soreness. Also, massage increases the production of mitochondria which speeds up the rebuilding process, and causes better sleep which is paramount to the building of new muscle.
Many also combine massage therapy with aroma therapy to unlock even more benefits from their massage. Different aromas increase the production of certain hormones, which can put you in a better mood, help you fall asleep, and more. While traditional methods for treating sore muscles will remain popular, massage and other alternative practices are gaining more and more popularity.