Some people call it “good” pain, but the truth is that no one really enjoys getting out of bed the morning after an intense workout. Your body is tense, your muscles feel weak and swollen, and you are ferociously hungry.

You may feel like you never want to go to the gym again. But exercise-induced muscle damage, and the steps you take to recover, are all part of becoming a better athlete, as long as you know your limits. Knowing the right steps to take for recovery is essential to repair muscle. Taking the right steps will also prevent injury. And the good news is, recovering and preventing injuries are easier than you think.

There is a growing amount of evidence that suggests moderate- to high-intensity exercise performed for more than 90 minutes can negatively impact your health. This study shows that too much exercise can lead to:

  • chronic infections and fatigue
  • allergic reactions
  • digestive discomfort
  • insomnia
  • depression

When you constantly push your body to its limit, your performance can suffer. Your health may also deteriorate, and you can seriously injure yourself. When it comes to exercise, managing the intensity and time of your workouts and your recovery can help you stay fit and well.

A short nap of ten to thirty minutes can restore your energy and potentially improve your performance and learning ability. Research suggests that recovery naps help you to enter a deeply restorative state. This can help you recover after an intense workout.

After your next workout, head home and set your alarm for 30 minutes. Listen to a meditation recording, relax in a chair, or snooze on your couch for 30 minutes before preparing your post-workout meal.

Post-workout recovery shakes are a great way to ensure your body is getting the nutrition it needs. Following intense exercise, a combination of protein and carbohydrates will help your muscles restore and regain strength.

One study suggests that eating or drinking a high-quality protein source from egg whites, soy, or whey protein, is ideal. These protein sources contain essential amino acids to promote maximum protein synthesis. Adding quick digesting carbohydrates like oranges, pineapples, or raspberries, can help refuel the muscles and speed up your recovery.

Sleep and nutrition will do wonders to aid in your exercise recovery, and according to this study, compression clothing can be another tool to help ease muscle soreness. Compression clothing can be worn on any part of your body to accommodate any sport.

It’s engineered to apply mild pressure without losing its shape throughout the day. If you are a runner who experiences shin splints and pain in your lower legs, a compression sleeve may help reduce recovery time and get you back on the track faster.

Lifting weights involves two different types of muscle contractions: the concentric, or contraction, phase, and the eccentric, or lengthening, phase. The lengthening phase is when you extend the contracted muscle of each rep you perform. This contraction is what causes most muscle damage and soreness.

If you’re feeling stiff, you can still go to the gym — just perform only concentric exercises. Step-ups, pulling, or pushing a sled, and light work with a medicine ball will get your blood flowing. These exercises will also add variety to your regimen while protecting your body from injury.

Exercise is great for your mind and body. And it’s important for maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. But too much exercise can be damaging to your body.

Rest, a proper diet, and many other things can help relieve muscle soreness, repair muscle, and prevent injury, so you can stay healthy and happy and keep on exercising.