Post-Workout Recovery Rituals That Work

Your workout is only as good as your recovery. If your muscles don’t recover and adapt from each session, they can’t get any stronger. But what about the off-the-beaten-path recovery methods? Do they work?

Recovery Method #1: Drinking tart cherry juice

Packed with colorful antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, tart cherries are believed to help keep your post-workout inflammation levels in check to help your body repair tissues faster. In 1 study of marathoners, those who drank tart cherry juice the week of their race recovered their muscle strength and function faster than those who went without.  Participants begin drinking the juice 5 days before their big event or race, continuing up to 48 hours following exercise. Remember, even 100% tart cherry juice contains a hefty amount of sugar and calories, so drink up right before or after your workouts to use both for fuel.

Recovery Method #2: Calming music

Research is showing that the music we listen to has a huge impact on nervous system activity. By triggering the release of stress hormones, fast-paced, upbeat,  music tends to spur better workout performances and make exercise  easier. So it makes sense that slow, calm tunes could help us bring down our stress response and recover faster.

Recovery Method #3: Taking ice baths

Unless you’re a masochist, you probably haven’t tried this. Fortunately for all who aren’t fans of excruciating cold baths, cold-water immersion doesn’t seem to be hugely helpful in aiding recovery. The most consistent finding is a reduction in self-reported pain after sitting in an ice bath—likely a placebo effect.

Recovery Method #4: Drinking coffee

Coffee (and caffeine in particular) gives people the extra boost of energy needed to help them crush their workouts. But coffee for exercise recovery? Like tart cherries, coffee is also rich in polyphenols, which help combat excess inflammation to promote actual recovery, Rasmussen says. Meanwhile, caffeine is a known analgesic, meaning it helps lower pain perception. When exercisers took caffeine 1 hour before their workouts, they experienced less muscle soreness on the following 2 days, compared to when they performed the same workouts caffeine-free.