Never skip leg day!
After a particularly intense leg day, you'll likely be filled with questions:
How long does this soreness last?
Will I be able to walk in a straight line again?
What happens if I ever need to walk up a flight of stairs? Will I die?
The answers to those questions can vary greatly, depending on your general level of activity, how heavy your workout was, and a myriad of other factors—including genetics. In short, you should expect the day after leg day to be the worst of it, and getting back to normal can take between two and three total days. If you're looking to ditch the post-workout waddle a little faster, however, there are some things you can do to speed up your recovery and offset some soreness.
It's worth noting that being sore is natural after an intense workday, and you should be proud of that! As long as you don't injure yourself (watch out for any sharp pains!), then the soreness is a sign that your muscles have been challenged enough to grow. In addition to the overall benefits of maintaining a good workout routine, focusing on your legs helps promote lifelong vein health by reducing your chances of diseases like varicose or spider veins.
That said, here's how to shoo away the soreness so you can get back to lunges!
Stretch It Out With Yoga
Okay, hear us out on this one. The prospect of doing extra exercise while you're recovering from a hard day of leg presses might seem unappealing, but including yoga in your workout schedule can have some serious benefits. You'll want to avoid doing a full yoga flow directly after a workout to avoid straining or overworking your muscles, but scheduling a gentle session in the days after a strenuous lifting session can make a huge difference.
In addition to the immediate impact that effective yoga can have on your recovery time, you'll also start to see plenty of long-term benefits if you stick with it. Practicing yoga is both a great way to support strength training along with being an awesome way to cultivate lifelong health too.
Soak With Epsom Salts
Epsom salt is a fancy way of saying magnesium sulfate, which is a compound of magnesium, sulfur, and oxygen. It's also an awesome tool for recovering after a particularly difficult leg day. When dissolved into a bath (or a soaking tub if taking your clothes off is too much extra movement), they release magnesium and sulfate ions. Many athletes use these salts to shorten their recovery times and get in some quality relaxation time while they do so.
Beyond the possible benefits for your muscles, Epsom salts have the benefit of being super relaxing. Seriously. The ions they release make bathwater feel smoother and more relaxing. They also hold onto scents well, so you'll have the added benefit of smelling like lavender afterward.
Get Some Sleep
If the other things on this list feel like too much work for your noodled-out legs, this one should be easy enough! Getting a healthy amount of sleep is shown to positively impact recovery time while also reducing fatigue. The benefits don't stop there either, as getting a good amount of sleep does wonders for your long-term health. If possible, shoot for at least 7 hours of sleep at night.
While it's not a substitute for a good night of sleep, a quick nap is a good substitute if you've still got things to do later in the day. Shoot for around 20 minutes of naptime to avoid any grogginess or inertia that can come from reaching deep sleep.
Walk It Off
When in doubt, walk more! This option isn't as relaxing as Epsom salts or sleeping, but it comes with plenty of benefits. Staying mobile throughout the day increases your body's blood circulation, which has a ton of benefits for your muscles. In addition to recovering faster from soreness, you'll also limit the impact that your workouts have on your flexibility and mobility.
Beyond that, walking comes with a ton of other benefits for your overall leg health. It's hard to think of a reason not to!
How do you recover after a rough leg day? Sound off in the comments.