That doesn't mean kicking your trainers off, pouring a beer and settling down with a box set. Researchers recommend extreme temperature changes to repair damaged muscles, reduce swelling and flush out lactic acid. Try a five-minute jog or stretch, six minutes of alternating hot showers (37-43°C) and ice baths, six minutes of cycling, walking or stretching at low intensity, finishing with a final chilly two-minute ice bath.
Although low glycaemic index (GI) foods help to maintain energy levels during the day, high-GI foods - such as white bread, watermelon and raisins -are best straight after exercise because they release glucose into the blood.
Have a combination of protein and carbs within 30 minutes of your workout. Carbs spike insulin levels in your blood, which shuttles protein into fatigued muscle cells. Protein is essential for repairing these damaged muscle cells.' Studies recommend a carbohydrate/protein ratio of four to one.
Stretch it out
Finish your workout with a stretching routine to improve the elasticity of your muscles. Maintaining a stretch for 30 seconds will give you the maximum length gains to reduce tightness the next. It will also flush out waste products. When you stretch a muscle it constricts vessels to squeeze out the excess lactic acid that causes stiffness.
Get a rub-down
A post-exercise massage prevents delayed onset muscle soreness. Massage relieves tension in muscles after weight training, which reduces pain. A massage two hours after hamstring exercises reduced the intensity of soreness 48 hours later.
Roll with it
If you can't convince your girlfriend to hammer your hams, foam rollers are a useful self-massage tool. Rollers can be used to loosen tightness in the iliotibial band, calves and quads and stretch the spine out
Rehydrating is crucial. Your body requires extra water for two to three hours after exercise. It is recommended drinking 1.2 to 1.5 times the weight of fluid lost during exercise. Hit the scales before and after your session and drink the requisite amount.