4 Research-Backed Tips to Recover from your Outdoor Adventure

Friday July 10, 2020

You did it. You conquered that trail/route/epic zipline. Whether you have a completion certificate in hand or a handful of chalk, that inner roar of triumph is deafening. You know what else will be deafening? Your muscles’ screams tomorrow morning. You can’t blame yourself; even those in the best of shape feel a little worse for wear after a new route. Luckily, there are steps you can take before, during, and after you set foot outside to minimize the after-adventure aches. Follow these research-backed tips to minimize subsequent soreness:

  1. Sleep

This isn’t new information. There’s a reason everyone harps on getting 7-9 hours per night. Anabolic hormones (think of them as your inner construction team, working hard to build up your muscles) are high when you sleep, and they could really use 7-9 hours before and after a good workout.

Create your dream sleeping schedule: decide what time you want to wake up, then designate a time to be asleep 7-9 hours before that. About an hour before your new bedtime, dim the lights and limit screen use. If that seems unfathomable, at least download a red-light filter. The blue light from your favorite screens can get in the way of sound sleep.

  1. Eat and drink smart

Your “construction team” needs the right tools to prepare and repair your muscles. Aim for a little protein before bed1 to give them the gizmos they need to get the job done. If we could suggest: a glass of chocolate milk is high in the protein you need for muscle recovery, and the choco-carbs refuel your energy stores2 to get you back on the trail, or up in the trees, faster.

Your heart may be saying, “recovery comes with a victory brew”, and while we agree that you shouldn’t stop throwing back fluids after your adventure, your body and mind would prefer a glass (or two, or three…) of water3. Besides the fact that, you know, you’re 60% water and all, water also removes the waste that comes along with those tiny muscle tears. The more waste you remove, the better your “construction team” can work. Ideally, work to take in a glass of water every half hour during your adventure.

While we’re on the topic of fluids, research shows that tart cherry juice may help to reduce muscle swelling and prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness 4. Follow that glass of water with a shot of cherry juice and a chocolate milk chaser, then make a beeline for the nearest restroom.

  1. Warm-up

Prepare physically and mentally for the challenge at hand by starting slow. Start on a bunny slope, a 5.6 route, or the “easy” Go Ape option. By gradually raising your heartrate and body temperature, your muscles will become more flexible, and you’ll feel a little more resilient. Loosen your muscles, and in turn, your reservations. It’ll make the extreme route that much more gratifying.

  1. Active recovery

That post-adventure mood doesn’t have to end with recovery. The fact that you feel better after a good, hard work-out is evidence enough that a little movement will go a long way to aid in muscle mending. Remember all those beverages you’ve been knocking back? Take a leisurely bike ride or stroll to efficiently circulate those fluids through your body, which can move nutrients in, and waste out, faster5.


  1. (Res PT, et al. (2012). Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31824cc363)
  2. (Pritchett K, et al. (2012). Chocolate milk: A post-exercise recovery beverage for endurance sports. DOI: 10.1159/000341954)
  3. Gisolfi CV. (1993). Chapter 5: Water requirements during exercise in the heat. Nutritional needs in hot environments: Applications for military personnel in field operations.
  4. Rawson ES, et al. (2018). Dietary supplements for health, adaptation, and recovery in athletes. DOI: 10.1123/ijsnem.2017-0340
  5. Dupuy O, Douzi W, Theurot D, Bosquet L, Dugué B. An Evidence-Based Approach for Choosing Post-exercise Recovery Techniques to Reduce Markers of Muscle Damage, Soreness, Fatigue, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis. Front Physiol. 2018;9:403. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00403

People photo created by jcomp –