The American way is that more is better right? We always want more. Well, not always the case, especially when it comes to exercise.
A good friend of mine recently reminded me that exercise is actually stress on the body and that rest is just as important. 100% true. Since most fitness and exercise messages are all about motivating people to work out more, more, more; I figured I would post a blog about rest and recovery.
I’m guilty of working out six and sometimes seven days a week. I’ll admit it; I’m addicted to being healthy and addicted to exercise. I love it and chose a career in it. However, I typically strength train or lift weights four days a week and then the other three are usually active recovery days. Active recovery typically includes cardio, yoga, foam rolling, cycling, running, hiking, etc. Nothing too crazy, but the goal is to get the body moving and stretch out the muscles that I have been tearing up all week. Long story short, rest and recovery is when your body actually repairs itself from your workouts, allowing your muscles to heal and grow back bigger and stronger.
Here are six things to do on your days off and they will also help you recover faster:
1. Yoga is one of the best things you can do to ensure your body recovers quickly from tough workouts. Practicing yoga regularly between workouts allows you to focus on dynamic flexibility training, core stabilization and balance, all of which can help you recover faster after workouts and open up tight areas that might be hindering your performance.
2. Foam rolling will speed up workout recovery like nothing else can. Not only will foam rolling help reduce soreness and tightness so that you feel ready to get back to working out harder sooner, rolling out the knots can also help prevent injuries and can make you more flexible, which will aid in better performance at the gym.
3. Supplements. Finding a quality protein powder will help accelerate protein synthesis aka rebuilding muscles in your body and decrease recovery time. Most protein powders have amino acids in them, but an amino acid powder will also help aid in recovery. Just be cautious of artificial ingredients and be sure to read the supplement facts.
4. Soak & Ice. Bet you have been wondering what the picture up above is all about? Well Dr. Teal makes a variety of Epsom salts and the Pre & Post Workout one is my favorite. Putting a cup of these salts in your bath before or after a workout will help reduce swelling and recovery time. Or just have one particular area giving you problems? Put some ice on it. Ice reduces swelling and inflammation, which reduces recovery time as well.
5. Eat for recovery. Including certain foods in your diet can reduce inflammation. Especially, foods high in vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, healthy carbs, healthy fats and protein. Some examples include:
- Fruit (healthy carbs & vitamins)
- Nuts (healthy fats)
- Turmeric (anti-inflammatory)
- Ginger (super-food)
- Eggs (Omega-3 fatty acids)
- Leafy greens & veggies (healthy carbs & vitamins)
- Chia seeds (super food)
- Fish (Omega-3 fatty acids)
6. Sleep. When you’re active and work out hard, one of the most important things you can do to help your body recover is to get plenty of sleep. This is when your body does its best muscle-building and repairing. Missing out on a good night’s sleep will delay recovery and increase stress both physically and mentally.
The bottom line? Learn to listen to your body and do what works for you. Some don’t like icing/cold exposure or taking baths. That’s okay, try other means of recovery and only you know what is best for you. Just take care of your body, because you only get one.