I'll start off putting it simply - you must train hard and recover even harder! I work with a variety of athletes and clients and one of the main culprits to their success is their ability to recover from a previous training session. Here are some healthy ways to help your body recover and restore your muscles.
Food: When you're done training, you need to eat a protein source to build muscle. Muscles are made up proteins, and without consuming any protein quickly (in the first 45 minutes after the training session - the earlier the better), muscles won't grow.
On top of that, eating quality meals with a protein source, carbohydrate, and additional vegetables will help your body feel better after training. Here are some suggestions of foods and drinks to aid recovery.
Pineapple and Papaya
Good for: Muscle recovery
Salmon or Fish Oil Supplement
Good for: Cardiovascular fitness
PB&J or Pasta with Meat Sauce
Good for: Muscle building and repair
8 ounces of Chocolate Milk
Good for: Hydration after workout
Why? Milk has more electrolytes and potassium. The addition of chocolate gives the perfect balance of carbohydrate, protein, and fat for a speedy muscle recovery.
Good for: Minimizes muscle soreness after workout
Good for: Endurance
Good for: Muscle recovery
Self-myofasical release: This includes foam rolling, Theracane, the Stick, or any other massage tool. When a muscle stretches near the point of injury, the Golgi tendon organ (GTO) tells the muscle spindles to relax. Foam rolling stimulates the muscle and works the GTO so the athlete can work in a more complete range of motion without the muscles shutting down.
Contrast showers and baths (Cold and Hot): Contrasting relaxes and excites the muscles, moves blood through, and shorten the restoration time.
Warm up, stretch, and relax: I recommend performing a dynamic warm up before doing your workout as this increases your core body temperature, excites the nervous system and allows your body to increase its range of motion. Save the stretching routine for after the workout to further aid recovery.
Hydrate: Keep it simple, always have a bottle of water near by during workout sessions and drink when thirsty. Drinking on your rest days will help push toxins out and keep the muscles loose.
Relax (sleep): Recovery requires relaxing. Take Nike's advice and "Just Do It!" Enough said.
To summarize, if you implement these recovery and restoration methods, you will feel better and more importantly you can train harder! To maximize your chances of obtaining your goal you must work hard and recover hard, otherwise you're just spinning your wheels.