Best Natural Workout Recovery Supplements
By Dr. Karen Vieira Ph.D.
Individuals who workout regularly and vigorously often experience muscle soreness. Sometimes the pain and discomfort is brief, while at other times it may last for an extended period of time. Dr. Johnathan Folland, PhD, who is an expert in neuromuscular physiology from Loughborough University was asked why muscle soreness occurs after exercising, and here is what he had to say.
Dr. Johnathan Folland, PhD,
Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences
“Sore muscles after physical activity, known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), can occur when you start a new exercise program, change your exercise routine, or increase the duration or intensity of your regular workout.” According to Dr. Folland, when muscles are required to work in a different way when you begin a new form of exercise or workout harder than you normally would, this causes microscopic damage to the muscle fibers, resulting in muscle soreness or stiffness.
Dr. Folland was also asked how muscle soreness can be prevented and he explained that “one of the best ways to prevent DOMS is to start any new activity program gently and gradually. Allowing the muscle time to adapt to new movements should help minimize soreness. There is little evidence that warming-up will be effective in preventing DOMS. However, exercising with warmed-up muscles will reduce your chance of injury and improve your performance.”
Studies have also shown that there are several supplements that are beneficial for workout recovery. One of the best workout recovery supplements is omega-3s. Studies indicate that the omega-3 fats in fish oil may hinder the breakdown of muscle protein during exercise [1, 2]. The proposed mechanism is through the ability of omega-3s to improve insulin sensitivity as resistance to insulin is linked to muscle breakdown. One particular study even showed that fish oil slows the normal decline in muscle mass and function, but also enhances the effect of strength training in healthy older adults . Fish oil is most commonly obtained through supplements and food, such as different types of fish.
Additional research regarding muscle recovery suggests that branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) supplementation before and after exercise decreases exercise-induced muscle damage and promotes muscle-protein synthesis . BCAAs also appear to boost the recovery and healing of muscle tissue, while disrupting the activity of inflammatory proteins, making it one of the best natural workout recovery supplements.
In addition to taking workout recovery supplements, eating the right foods is important. The following infographic shows some of the foods that can help boost recovery after a workout.
Tipton KD. Nutritional Support for Exercise-Induced Injuries. Sports Med. 2015; 45 Suppl 1:93-104.
Smith GI, Julliand S, Reeds DN, Sinacore DR, Klein S, Mittendorfer B. Fish oil-derived n-3 PUFA therapy increases muscle mass and function in healthy older adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015; 102(1):115-22.
Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2008; 48(3):347-51.