What To Do After a Workout

So, you’ve just finished a great workout, but now what? There is a ton of information out there for how to recover from a workout depending on the type, length, and intensity – however, there are some factors that remain the same across the board, like proper cool down and post activity nutrition. So read on to learn how to take care of your body so it can keep performing for you!

Cool Down

We’ve all been told before that doing a cool down is just as important as physical activity, but how many of you are guilty of not doing one? A big reason why many people don’t cool down is because they don’t know the full benefits that come with it!

A typical cool down consists of

  • 3-5 minutes of a lower intensity activity, such as jogging, walking, or a gentle yoga flow

  • 5 minutes of static stretching

    • Choose 3-5 stretches for muscles that were 'worked out’

    • Hold the stretches for 20-30 seconds

  • 3-5 minutes of foam rolling

A proper cool-down will

  • Lower heart and respiration rate

  • Cool body temperature

  • Reduce lactic acid build up

  • Lower the risk of muscles spasm or cramps

  • Lessen the chance of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)


To get the full benefit of exercise it’s important to fuel your body. With proper nutrition, you will notice improved body composition, performance, and recovery.

As you exercise, you’re causing micro-level damage to muscles and your body has to work to repair this! In order to do so, you need to consume carbohydrates and protein after a workout, ideally within two hours.


Carbs are not bad; they are the body’s source of glucose! Muscles need glucose, stored at glycogen, for energy so the goal after is to recreate these stores for future use.

Examples of good carbs are:

  • Fruits

  • Rice cakes

  • Rice or quinoa

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Pasta

  • Oatmeal


The body needs to repair muscles after activity, and you have to provide your muscles with the building blocks needed in the form of protein!

Protein turnover

Protein turner is the process of breaking down old or damaged proteins through micro-level damage, and synthesizing new ones using amino acids we get in food.

This can be difficult if the rate of breakdown exceeds the rate of synthesis, but we can help by making sure we have the right raw materials available for our bodies by eating the right things after a workout.

Examples of good protein are:

  • Tuna or chicken

  • Protein bar

  • Eggs

  • Protein powder in a shake

  • Cottage cheese

Remember you can combine these to make great meals to provide you with all the nutrients you need after exercise

  • Grilled chicken with vegetables

  • Egg and avocado toast

  • Salmon with sweet potato

  • Tuna salad on whole grain bread

  • Oatmeal, whey protein, banana, and almonds

  • Cottage cheese and fruit

  • Pita and hummus

  • Rice crackers and nut butter

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Also known as DOMS, this is exactly what it sounds like – pain and stiffness in muscles. It can begin anywhere from six to eight hours post-activity but typically peaks about 2 days later.

While no one is certain what DOMS is, the most current research is rooted in the idea that this phenomenon is due to inflammation caused by micro-tears that activate pain receptors, heightening the sensation of pain.

Pay Attention

A lot of people think that sore muscles mean a great workout, but that isn’t always the case. Stay safe and healthy by listening to your body! Chasing deeper sensation and more intense activity isn’t always the best thing to do. Instead, listen – pay attention to your body, how it feels day in and day out, and do what feels right for you. If you have any questions or concerns you can always ask for help! Your chiropractor, physiotherapist, personal trainer, or registered massage therapist are all great resources!

Now that you’re armed with knowledge, you can get to work safely, and effectively take care of your body to keep it healthy and happy for years to come!

Dr. Hillary Hart

Dr. Hilary Hart is a chiropractor at Valeo Health Clinic in Kelowna where she works with a variety of people to achieve their goals. She believes that quality of life is a vital component of wellness and enjoys working cooperatively with patients to help them reach their goals and create healthier lifestyles. Regardless of age or fitness level, from grandparents to professional athletes, Dr. Hilary prides herself on approaching each and every one with the same enthusiasm and compassion.

Outside of the clinic, Dr. Hilary is a registered yoga teacher and works at the Hot Box Yoga where you can find her taking or teaching a class. She enjoys spending her days outdoors, whether she’s skiing, hiking, biking – road and mountain – or exploring the Okanagan with her French Bulldog, Walter, she makes sure to balance all of that out with her small obsession with cooking and baking.