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The 4 Stages of Muscle Recovery (and how to speed them up)

What’s the secret to faster post workout recovery? The answer lies within the body’s natural muscle recovery process.  Discover how each stage works and what you can do to make sure your recovery is quick and effective.

The 4 Stages of Recovery

muscle recovery process

There are four main stages that regulate muscle recovery when you’re adequately hydrated, nourished, and rested. Muscle activation, which happens through movement, is vital to each stage.

Stage 1: Delivery of nourishment

To repair damaged tissue, nourishment and supplies need to be delivered to the area so the recovery process can begin. When your skeletal muscles are activated, they send a signal to your smooth muscles that surround blood vessels to relax. Once relaxed, your blood vessels dilate and circulation increases, allowing more nutrients and supplies to be transported to the damaged tissue.

muscle recovery processStage 2: Waste Removal

To keep waste from building up and leading to swelling or further damage, the next stage involves the process of removing waste. The lymphatic system is responsible for removing waste, but it’s a passive system. Activation of the muscles that surround lymphatic vessels is required to push out the waste.

Stage 3: Tissue Regeneration

During this stage of recovery, myokines are produced and released into your body. Myokines are the proteins in the body that drive tissue regeneration. Muscle activation provides the mechanical stress required to produce myokines so that your damaged tissue can be repaired.

Stage 4: Remodeling of Repaired Tissue

After tissue has been repaired, it then needs to be remodeled. When new tissue is formed, it creates a random pattern that makes it hard for the tissue to slide smoothly past one another. The tissue needs to be rearranged in straight lines so it can function properly. Mechanical stress, or movement, allows the repaired muscle tissue to optimally remodel. Failure to optimally remodel the repaired muscle tissue leads directly to dysfunctional movement.

How to Speed the Stages of Recovery

Movement is the natural facilitator for the recovery process. Normal amounts of movement (ie. doing your normal routine, errands, etc.) will result in a normal rate of recovery. However, if you’re training, lifestyle, or age requires you to recover quicker, you will need to do something out of your normal routine. Adding in the right amount of movement, or muscle activation, will speed the process.  This is why active recovery is a popular technique for athletes and is proven to be the most effective way to improve recovery. With traditional active recovery, there are some limitations that can effect your recovery results. Discover how Marc Pro perfects active recovery.