With each of us having more than 600 muscles in our bodies, helping us to move, lift things, pump blood through the body, and helping us to breathe, it’s important to look after them. Keeping our muscles healthy will help us in everything we do in our daily lives.
Healthy muscles let us move more freely and keep our bodies strong. They also keep our joints in good shape, providing support, balance, strength and help prevent injuries. Exercising, getting enough rest and eating well, to name a few tips, will all help keep our muscles healthy for life.
If you are exercising regularly, it’s important to maintain muscle health in order to avoid tears and strains, so you can enhance your performance and allow yourself to gain more muscle strength. Here are a few important factors to consider:
- Your muscles require sleep in order for them to recover after a workout, and getting 7-8 hours sleep a night will ensure your body has the ability to complete the necessary cycles of repair and recovery in order to maintain healthy muscle and promote muscle growth and strength.
- This is particularly important when you have done a heavy training session, when DOM’s (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) can be felt afterwards.
- Being well hydrated is crucial for healthy muscles, providing essential electrolytes that are vital for muscle strength and control, and also for building healthy muscle tissue.
- On average, 2 litres of water a day, more if you are working out, as you lose a lot of water during a workout in the form of sweat.
- What you eat greatly impacts the health of your muscles with regarding muscle strength, repair and function.
- It’s important to include protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals in your diet for healthy muscles.
- As most of our muscles are made up of proteins, it’s important to include protein in our diets to replenish what’s lost during our workouts. Foods high in protein include meat, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy products.
- Carbohydrates are very important also and provide the fuel for our muscles, so we can perform to our best during our workouts. Foods like whole grains, fruit and vegetables are ideal carbohydrates to include in our diets.
- Healthy fats are also helpful for a variety of health reasons and can be found in foods like avocados, nuts and seeds, peanut oils and olive oil.
- A well balanced diet and variety of healthy foods will provide your muscles with all the essential vitamins and minerals you need to maintain healthy muscles. Taking a daily multivitamin can also help our bodies obtain the nutrients we need.
Warm Up and Cool Down
- Focus on the muscles you’ll be using during your workout.
- Light training can help your muscles prepare for your workout eg: Rip 60 Squats and Rows, 3 sets of 15 reps on each.
- Some light cardio eg: spin bike or rower for 5 – 10 minutes before you start your session.
- After exercise it’s important to spend some time cooling down, similar to the warm up but at a slower pace, and maybe add some static stretches.
- Stretching your muscle groups can help reduce injury.
- Hold each stretch for up to 20 seconds, allowing the muscle to become more flexible.
- This can also help your muscle reach their full range of function.
- When it comes to our joints having full range of motion (the ability of our joints to move actively through a range of motion), it’s important to incorporate mobility exercises into our daily workouts.
- These exercises focus on movements that engage our joints, moving them in flowing sequences, working on deep tissue muscles.
- While static stretching mentioned above has its advantages, taking a joint through controlled range will give us greater flexibility and reduce stress on a muscle, and therefore increase mobility of our joints, improve circulation and blood flow and generally improve the health of our joints and muscles.
Prioritising a regular mobility practise, for example a Yoga class, can improve overall performance, reduce risk of injury and aid recovery.