#1 Stretch! At MG fitness we do it after every session and it feels 'goood', but that's not the only reason why! Stretching improves flexibility and also stimulates blood flow. The more blood you can get to those aching sore muscles the better! Blood contains the vital nutrients your muscles require to rebuild, strengthen and recover. The more blood to the area, the more nutrients received = faster recovery. Stretching really should be done daily and regularly throughout the day, especially if you are required to sit for long periods of time.
#2 Protein! Simply put it's the food your muscles feed on to get strong and repair. When you exercise you actually cause minor tears in your muscles, protein is used in the body to rebuild and strengthen these microscopic tears.
Point of interest: Unlike fat, excess protein cannot be stored in the body and also takes longer to digest, making you feel full for longer!
#3 Exercise! "But that's what got me so darn sore in the first place!" - I know, but a light to moderate form of exercise like walking or swimming for example is fantastic for recovery! Similar to stretching it increases blood circulation and hence aids recovery. The goal is to warm up the body, not put it through another intense workout.
#4 Sleep! It's recommended as adults we should aim to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night for optimal health. While you're fast asleep your body is hard at work. Only once you fall into a deep sleep cycle can your body begin to properly repair and recover. Sitting in front of a TV or computer screen relaxing is not the same. Depriving yourself of sleep drastically effects your body's ability to recover, leaving you feeling even more sore and tired.
#5 Water! Most people don't drink enough water! For every hour of strenuous exercise you should drink an additional 1L of water. This is the minimum; obviously in warmer climates (think of our Queensland summers!) you will need to drink more. The benefits of drinking water are severely underestimated. For your body to function properly it must be well hydrated!