Building strength is a fitness goal that can help support your metabolism and improve muscular endurance. However, exercise is just one factor in your overall health—your muscles and joints also need proper recovery time to replenish and repair themselves.

Just like building your muscles, the best way to recover your muscles is naturally. With time, natural recovery methods can help support your exercise routine, improve your health, and reduce the likelihood of injury.

Ready to recover? Let’s dive into the top seven natural muscle recovery methods, from rest to restorative topicals.

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#1 Sleep. Repeat.

The first and foremost rule for natural muscle recovery? Give your muscles time to rest. Rest comes in two forms for your muscles—sleep and rest days. To start, let’s discuss the importance of catching your Zs. Sleep is more than just a break from exercise and movement. It’s your body’s primary time to self-repair and recharge, particularly for muscle growth. That said, if you routinely skip the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, your body may respond with a cascade of hormonal changes that block muscle growth and recovery.

These changes include:

  • Increased cortisol (the human stress hormone)
  • Increased corticosterone
  • Reduced testosterone
  • Reduced insulin-like growth factor 
  • Slowed protein synthesis
  • Increased degradation or catabolic pathways

The less you sleep, the less beneficial muscle-building hormones (particularly testosterone and insulin-like growth factor) your body will produce. The result? Tired, weak, and overworked muscles that take longer to recover.

#2 Take a Day Off (or Two)

Sleep is important, but don’t leave rest time to the night hours. Your muscles also need routine rest days, which entails pausing your workouts, to recover from exercise.

A “No Days Off” attitude may feel like an accomplishment, but it will hurt your fitness in the long run. By giving yourself rest and recovery, you can help your body:

  • Reduce soreness – When you exercise, lactic acid builds up in your muscle tissue. If this lactic acid doesn’t have time to evacuate during rest, you’ll develop those familiar cramps and aches.
  • Repair and build muscle – To build muscle, exercise creates microscopic tears in muscle tissue. With proper nutrition and rest, your fibroblasts (a particular muscle-building cell) repairs these tears to create an even stronger tissue. However, a lack of rest will reduce fibroblast activity and muscle growth.
  • Restore your energy – Consider glycogen as the fuel for your muscles. When you exercise, you deplete the glycogen stores inside muscle tissue (which is why you can’t do pull-ups forever). Nutrition and rest help restore the glycogen content in your muscles, preparing you for your next workout.
  • Avoid injury – The less you rest, the more likely your body will force you to rest. Overworked muscles are more susceptible to injuries like strains and tears, which will take much longer to heal than one day off from your workout. 

#3 Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Refresh with water from the inside out. Proper hydration can help your muscles recover and perform at their best, especially during exercise.

When you work out, your body loses more hydration than at rest through sweat. Replacing that water content is crucial for your overall health and muscle repair. One study found that athletes must consume the volume of water equal to their sweat loss to maintain their fitness level. 

Additionally, your body loses electrolytes with sweat, which can lead to muscle cramping. Choose electrolyte-filled drinks or add an electrolytes tab to your water to replenish these crucial minerals, such as:

  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Sodium

How much water will this look like for you? It depends on how much hydration you lose during exercise. 

To learn just how much, try weighing yourself before and immediately after a typical workout without drinking water in between. Multiply any weight you lose by 1.5—that would be the fluid weight of water you need to restore your hydration after a workout.

#4 Eat a Nutrient-Rich Diet

It’s true—what you eat is what your muscles will become.

Nutrition is a key ingredient in muscle recovery. In particular, the right post-workout snack can promote muscle growth and restore glycogen without spiking your blood sugar. Research shows that consuming carbohydrates and protein within one hour after exercise can support muscle recovery. Some great snack options include:

  • Greek yogurt with fruit
  • Peanut butter on toast
  • Protein shakes or bars
  • Turkey or chicken sandwich
  • Tuna salad and crackers

Overall, everyone has individual dietary needs. However, there are a few nutritional rules to bear in mind when trying to promote muscle recovery: stick with non-processed and nutrient-dense foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins), and try to consume at least 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

#5 Take Natural Supplements

Nutrition is the number-one source of all nutrients and energy. However, athletes and fitness enthusiasts may need a little extra help to restore their muscle tissue—that’s where supplements come in handy.

Many supplements are concentrated forms of natural ingredients, substances, and chemicals. Even if it’s in pill form, that doesn't mean it isn’t “natural.” Certain natural supplements can significantly improve muscle recovery, such as:

  • Creatine monohydrate – It’s a bodybuilder favorite for a reason. Creatine has years of research to back up its muscle repair powers in the short-term and long-term. When combined with resistance training, regular consumption of creatine can improve fitness performance and recovery.
  • L-Glutamine – This natural amino acid found in foods like chicken, fish, and spinach could significantly reduce muscle soreness. Multiple studies found that L-Glutamine supplementation helped with muscle fatigue, recovery time, and athletic performance.
  • BCAA’s – Also known as brain-chain amino acids, BCAA’s may prevent your muscles from needing as much recovery time in the first place. One study found that women who took BCAA’s before a workout had less muscle soreness and a shorter muscle recovery period.

#6 Stretch It Out

Don’t run home after that final set or lap. A stretching routine can significantly support your muscle recovery time after a workout.

Stretching includes any activities that lengthen the muscle fascia, reduce lactic acid buildup, and increase blood flow to muscles—all of which help muscle recovery. These activities may include:

  • Foam rolling – One hard-texture roller can do a whole lot of good for your muscles. Multiple studies show that foam rolling both before and after a workout could improve fitness performance. Additionally, foam rolling can reduce DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness.
  • Active recovery – Sometimes, you need to work out your workout. Light movement on days after intense exercise can remove lactic acid from muscles, reducing soreness afterward. Try activities like yoga, walking, tai chi, or slow biking after a hard session.
  • Post-activity stretch routine – When your muscles are warm, it’s the best time to stretch (otherwise you might risk injury). Research shows that post-exercise stretching can lightly reduce soreness over the next 72 hours.

#7 Try Muscle Recovery Topicals

Need some instant relief to help with your leg day recovery? Explore the world of muscle recovery topicals.

When applied to the skin, certain natural compounds can penetrate your muscles to soothe soreness, induce blood flow, and support pain relief. Some top research-backed ingredients to seek out include:

  • CBD – A recent addition to the topical market, cannabinoids may help to soothe exercise-induced soreness. CBD products come in various topical forms whether it’s a CBD cream vs. salve or a roll-on. Research shows that regular application of cannabinoid topicals can reduce local inflammation, possibly helping muscles recover from strain or use. 
  • Arnica – A longtime favorite of athletes, topical arnica can reduce soreness after intense exercise. One study found that applying arnica every 4 hours to the leg muscles after running led to less muscular pain and soreness. 
  • Camphor – While camphor is not an anti-inflammatory, it may support muscle recovery by increasing blood flow. Camphor topicals induce a hot-cold sensation, the result of more blood circulating to a local site. With more available oxygen and nutrients carried by red blood cells, your muscles can recover faster.
  • Menthol - Known as a counterirritant, menthol can help alleviate the discomfort that comes with sore muscles during the muscle recovery process. Topicals that include menthol produce a cooling sensation while working to potentially alleviate minor discomfort. 

For the best result, try combining the powers of these muscle recovery topicals. A compound formula (like our CBD Muscle Recovery Cream) can reduce inflammation, soothe pain, and increase blood flow for full-body recovery.

Recover with ProVault

From professional athletes to weekend warriors, muscle recovery is a necessary part of anyone’s fitness routine. Fortunately, you don’t need harsh chemicals or prescriptions to stay in tip-top shape. At ProVault, we know that natural muscle recovery remedies are the best remedies—and our natural skin topicals such as our CBD Salve for Muscles can help you get ready for the next challenge. 

Crafted with natural pain relief ingredients like camphor and menthol, our muscle recovery products provide intensive and fast-acting relief while also being infused with THC-free CBD isolate. Every ProVault formula is free of pesticides, heavy metals, chemical additives, and are lab-tested for potency and purity, making them safe for everyday use.

Take your recovery to the next level with our CBD collection today.


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NIH. Stretching Before and After Exercise: Effect on Muscle Soreness and Injury Risk.

NIH. The effects of topical Arnica on performance, pain and muscle damage after intense eccentric exercise.

NIH. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis.

About the Author

Laura Pitlik, Chief Marketing Officer at Arcadia Biosciences, Inc.

Laura Pitlik is the Chief Marketing Officer at Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., a producer of innovative, plant-based health and wellness products.  With degrees in Journalism and Advertising/PR from Texas Christian University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Southern Methodist University, Laura is a proven and accomplished Packaged Goods marketer and executive leader. Her areas of expertise include innovation, brand building, and omnichannel marketing strategy; her passion is developing unique, quality products that deliver on consumers’ evolving needs.  She has over 26 years of experience working on leading consumer brands including Dr Pepper®, Sunkist®, Hostess Brands®, On The Border® Tortilla Chips and Salsas and now, at Arcadia, GoodWheatTM, Zola Coconut Water® and SoulSpringTM and ProVaultTM CBD-infused body care products.