Muscle fatigue can result from overtraining, exercising your muscles beyond their current endurance level or improper nutrition. After exercise, your muscles might ache, and you might find it hard to do anything beside crash in a chair from the fatigue you feel. Fortunately, there are several ways you can help your muscles regain their normal functionality.
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Stretch your muscles immediately after any exercise. Focus on the muscles that are most prone to soreness and the muscles that you used during the exercise. Move slowly in and out of each stretch. Hold each stretch for 15 to 25 seconds while taking deep breaths to allow plenty of oxygen to enter your bloodstream and to soothe your tired muscles.
Apply ice and heat to the fatigued muscles. Use ice during the first two days for up to 10 minutes per session. Switch to heat packs on the third day and beyond. Ice and heat therapy help reduce muscle pain and any swelling. Heat therapy also helps to soothe tired muscles and prepare them for activity.
Eat a recovery meal after exercise to refuel your muscles. Include complex proteins, such as branched-chain amino acids, typically found in legumes, dairy products and meat. These acids are essential amino acids that your body does not develop on its own, and according to "Men’s Fitness" magazine, they can help reduce muscle breakdown.
Replenish your body with fluids during and after exercise. Drink water or sports drinks that contain electrolytes. Fluids help your muscles contract, relax and remain less irritable, Dr. Patrick F. Leary writes for the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine & School of Pharmacy.
Rest your muscles for 24 to 48 hours before exercising again. Muscle fatigue can often be an indication that you pushed yourself harder than you should have. Rest will help your muscles recover from activity and store new energy for your next workout.
Engage in light activity that moves your tired muscles. During activity, the Medscape website explains, there is increased blood flow to the muscles and endorphins are released. Avoid high-impact and strenuous activities; instead, try a cardiovascular activity such as jogging or cycling at a slow pace for 10 to 20 minutes.