Oh, My Aching Back: How Rest & Recovery Can Heal Your Muscles

Maybe you did a few more reps than you should have, or perhaps you literally went the extra mile on your morning run. No matter the cause, you’ve overdone it, and now your muscles are sore and strained. It’s vital you give your body a chance to heal so you don’t cause further injury. To help your weary muscles recover from a strenuous workout, consider the following tips:

Give Yourself a Break

Rest and recovery do much more than help damaged muscles heal; these principles can actually benefit your body just as much as your time at the gym. As Sports Training points out, when you are resting, your body is adjusting to the physical stress you placed on it during your workout. You are also giving your mind time to prepare for the next session.

aching backWhile some athletes may feel that resting applies to their time in between workouts, you should also be sure you are getting adequate breaks while you are exercising. For example, if you are doing any type of strength training like weight lifting, you should rest for about three minutes in between sets. If you are trying to build muscle with power workouts, you should rest for about a minute in between sets.

Take Time Off

The amount of time you should take off in between your exercise sessions really depends on how fit you are and how hard you’re training. Those in relatively decent shape who are doing some simple cardio and strength training can usually safely work out every day, whereas someone undergoing vigorous training should take a longer break in between sessions.

If you’ve overtrained, get yourself access to a hot tub. Do some gentle stretching first and then get in—the powerful jets can help soothe sore muscles and encourage them to heal faster. Follow this up by a massage from a licensed professional. According to Hot Tub Works, you should soak in the hot tub for at least 15 minutes before your massage. The hot water draws out the lactic acid and reduces inflammation, helping you heal faster.

Get Adequate Sleep and Nutrition

While resting in between workouts is definitely important, you should also be careful how you spend that time off. If you stay up all night and eat poorly during recovery period, your muscles will not recover very effectively. As Bliss Plan notes, try to add extra protein to your daily diet; this can help your muscles to repair themselves and grow stronger. Make sure to get plenty of vitamin C (it helps tissue repair itself) and glutamine (an amino acid that’s abundant in healthy muscle tissue and fiber).

Finally, never underestimate the power of getting enough sleep. When we are sleeping, our bodies are busy repairing damage to overused and overworked muscles and helping them to bounce back quicker.

Armin Brott

View posts by Armin Brott
Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, mrdad.com. You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.


  1. MukebaFebruary 5, 2015

    In today’s society, people overwork. In fact, I once heard that America is the only nation where people work long hours compared to those in other nations. I agree with the statement, as it is a fact. For instance, when I look at my schedule for work, job, and other activities, I think to myself whether that is how the rest of my life will be. I mean I rarely have any free time to enjoy. Even worse is the fact that my focus is overtaken by all other the examples above that I rarely have the time to stop and examine my health. I think that taking time examine oneself (health-wise and others)and speak to your doctor should you have any persisting health issue is the best investment your can make for yourself.

  2. Harry deCaboFebruary 6, 2015

    I’ve found rest to be very important in my fitness life. I notice that I always perform worse when I don’t get as much sleep as I need. How much rest each person needs varies from person to person, but it is necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

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