Working out can be amazingly rewarding. But a strenuous workout can take a toll on the body, even for experienced athletes.


Michael Hopson, M.D., orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital, says it’s important to dedicate some time to a proper recovery period and offers these tips to help you better recover after your next workout.


Stretch it out. Just after exercising, while your muscles are still warm and flexible, hold some static stretches to reduce your risk for soreness. “Stretching post workout can also slow your breathing and heart rate, easing you back into a resting state,” Hopson said.


Drink up. Sweating during exercise can make you dehydrated, which can lead to muscle cramping, fatigue, headaches and poor performance. Rehydrate with plenty of water to aid your body with recovery and maintain proper body temperature.


Replenish electrolytes. Electrolytes include substances, such as sodium chloride (salt), magnesium and potassium. When you sweat and lose too many electrolytes, it can lead to muscle cramping, joint pain and more. “You can replenish electrolytes after an intense workout with a sports drink and maintain your electrolyte levels by eating a diet filled with electrolyte-rich foods, such as spinach, yogurt, sweet potatoes and salmon,” Hopson explained.


Rebuild with protein. Tiny tears form in your muscles as you work them. While these tears are necessary for your muscles to grow, it still means your muscles need to repair post workout. You can aid that repair and encourage muscle growth by consuming about 15 to 20 grams of protein just after working out. That’s about a cup of almonds or half a cup of chicken breast.


Hurting? Get hot or cold. Cold therapy, such as applying cold packs to an area on the body, can reduce inflammation and is good for injuries, acute pain and muscle spasms. Heat therapy, such as a warm bath or a heated pad, promotes blood flow, helps relax the muscles and can reduce chronic pain.


Catch some zzz’s. “The night of your workout (and every night) you should aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep. You won’t get the full benefits of your workout if you don’t let your body properly rest and rebuild at night,” Hopson added.


To schedule an appointment with a sports medicine specialist at Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine at Baytown, visit, or call 281-427-7400.