Two Methods to Recover from Workouts

Since I was about 5, I have been participating in organized sports. Basketball, soccer, softball, Irish dance – it was a crazy schedule. You learn to become really organized with your gear and your time. My way of staying organized was to develop routines…which ultimately turned into superstitions. I packed my bag the same way, at the same time, ordered the same sub, listened to the same music, in the same order, got dressed at the same time. Every. Single. Game. My pre-game routine was set, and it lead to many successful games. My post-game routine…not so much.

The recovery part of a workout is just as important as the warm-up and actual workout. It helps refuel and “reset” our bodies so we can get ready to go out and either play again that day, like many AAU and travel players, or be able to walk up the stairs once we get home (and let me tell you those suckers are my mortal enemy). For those of us who aren’t practicing or playing 6 days a week, who have taken more of a “weekend warrior” role, recovery is even more important.

The first aspect to anyone’s recovery should be a focus on refueling his or her body. This recovery involves the re-synthesis of glycogen stores; a key compound our bodies use for energy.1 To maximize the resynthesis, studies have suggested that 30-45 min post-exercise, 50-75 g of carbohydrates (CHO) should be consumed and for the next few hours, carbohydrate consumption should range between 1.2-1.5g CHO/kg body weight/hour.1,2,3,4,5  Most people, however, don’t want to sit down and eat a huge pasta dinner after they workout, so what can they do? This is where companies such as Gatorade and Endurox have come in to play. They offer recovery drinks to help maximize CHO consumptions post-exercise. Recently, there has been a push to move away from these drinks and move to a more natural product – milk – chocolate milk to be exact! Numerous studies have shown that when chocolate milk is consumed after a workout, athletes were able to perform just as well, or better, in a second workout either a few hours later or the next day!1,2,6,7,8 Milk contains a carbohydrate called sucrose and it is this simple sugar that has been found to result in great liver glycogen resynthesis than other carbohydrates.9 So maybe mom was right when she told you to drink your milk…just don’t tell her that.


Another important aspect to recovery is stretching. Stretching is sort of like how most people are with a car. You can feel it working, but you’re not sure how. Many people believe stretching helps to increase range of motion, prevent injuries, prevent DOMS, and improve performance.10,11,12,13 There has been little evidence that stretching helps with anything other than decreasing muscle stiffness.14,15,16 This doesn’t mean stretching is useless. Decreasing muscle stiffness helps our muscles function more properly. Remember those stairs I mentioned earlier? While it still might hurt to go up and down them, stretching after exercise helps your body be able to go through the ranges of motion necessary to be able to tackle those stairs.


So remember, if you’re like me and not rich enough to afford escalators in your home, go through a recovery process once your workout is complete. Find a routine you like and stick to it. Refuel your body with the right foods and add in some gentle stretching. Your body will thank you.


  1. American College of Sports Medicine, American Dietetic Association, and Dietitians of Canada. Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Joint Position Statement of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 32(12): 2130-2145, 2000.
  2. Karp J, Johnston J, Tecklenburg S, Mickleborough T, Fly A, Stager J. The Efficacy of Chocolate Milk as a Recovery Aid. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2004;36(Supplement):S126. doi:10.1097/00005768-200405001-00600.
  3. Costill, D.L. Carbohydrate for athletic training and performance. Bol. Assoc. Med. P. R. 83(8):350-353, 1991.
  4. Evans, W.J., Hughes, V.A. Dietary carbohydrates and endurance exercise. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 41(Suppl 5):1146-1154, 1985.
  5. Friedman, J.E., Neufer, P.D., Dohm, G.L. Regulation of glycogen resynthesis following exercise. Dietary considerations. Sports Med. 11(4):232- 243, 1991.
  6. Spaccarotella, K., Andzel, W. The Effects of Low Fat Chocolate Milk on Postexercise Recovery in Collegiate Athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2011;25(12):3456-3460. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e3182163071.
  7. Pritchett, K., Bishop, P., Pritchett, R., Green, M., Katica, C., Carter, S. Acute Effects Of Chocolate Milk And A Commercial Recovery Beverage On Post-exercise On Muscle Damage And Endurance Cycling Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2009;41(Supplement 1):508. doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000356099.84103.42.
  8. Ferguson-Stegall, L., McCleave, E., Doerner, P. et al. Effects of Chocolate Milk Supplementation on Recovery from Cycling Exercise and Subsequent Time Trial Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2010;42:760. doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000386204.90806.51.
  9. Casey, A., Mann, R., Banister, K., Fox, J., Morris, P.G., Macdonald, I.A., Greenhaff, P.L. Effect of carbohydrate ingestion on glycogen resynthesis in human liver and skeletal muscle, measured by (13)C MRS. Am. J. Physiol. Endocrinol. Metab. 278(1):E65-E75, 2000.
  10. Viale F, Nana-Ibrahim S, Martin R. Effect of Active Recovery on Acute Strength Deficits Induced by Passive Stretching. J Strength Cond Res. 2007;21(4):1233. doi:10.1519/r-21476.1.
  11. Herbert R., Gabriel, M. Effects of stretching before and after exercising on muscle soreness and risk of injury: systematic review. BMJ. 2002;325 (7362):468-468. doi:10.1136/bmj.325.7362.468.
  12. McHugh, M., Cosgrave, C. To stretch or not to stretch: the role of stretching in injury prevention and performance. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2009. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01058.x.
  13. Lewis, J. A Systematic Literature Review of the Relationship Between Stretching and Athletic Injury Prevention. Orthopaedic Nursing. 2014;33 (6):312-320. doi:10.1097/nor.0000000000000097.
  14. Torres, R., Pinho, F., Duarte, J., Cabr,i J. Effect of single bout versus repeated bouts of stretching on muscle recovery following eccentric exercise. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2013;16(6):583-588. doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2013.01.002.
  15. Herbert, R.D., de Noronha, M., Kamper, S.J. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD004577. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004577.pub3.
  16. Wilk K, Macrina L, Fleisig G et al. Correlation of Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit and Total Rotational Motion to Shoulder Injuries in Professional Baseball Pitchers. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2010;39(2):329-335. doi:10.1177/0363546510384223.