Rest Days Aren't the Only Way to Recover
I was talking to a friend who does CrossFit the other day about her workout routine. We were discussing our weekly workout schedules. She shared that she tries to get to her CrossFit gym three to four times a week and I told her I run four days a week and try to get in two weight sessions. She hates running and I would prefer not to lift weights but we both know balance is key.
As our conversation moved forward, we started to discuss injury and recovery. It made me remember how important investing in stretching, icing, and taking days off can be and… that is REALLY HARD for me. When I am done with a great workout, the last thing I want to do is spend an additional 10-15 minutes stretching. When my knee starts aching, taking time to slow down and and ice it seems impossible.
Stretching, scheduling rest days, icing, and getting massages are all fantastic but obvious ways you can help your body heal and recover from tough workouts and long training days. I want to share with you four quick and sneaky ways (in addition to the practices mentioned above) that I use to help my body recover.
- Sleep. Our society underestimates the EXTREME benefits of sleep. We walk into morning meetings with venti coffees in tow and baggy eyes as a badge of honor. When you don’t sleep your brain can’t function effectively, you crave sugar and fatty foods, your libido goes down, AND it disrupts tissue healing and muscle building. A close group of friends and I have a snapchat group. While their snaps include cool, weird, or interesting things they do throughout their day, my contribution is a nightly snap of me in bed, reading, with a funny filter, at about 9pm, biding everyone goodnight. Sleep will make you stronger.
- Active Recovery. This is basically doing something low impact on a rest day, or after a tough workout. For example, after running several miles or after “legs day”, I find it beneficial to ride a stationary bike for about 10 minutes at a slow pace. This helps to cool down and stretch out the muscles. Your active recovery needs to be based on your fitness level.
- Foam Roll or SMR. Many times muscle soreness happens when our connective tissues become tense. Foam rolling, or using other manipulatives such as a theracane, can help break tension and even help relieve pain from scar tissue build up. Plus, you can do it while watching your favorite TV show and it feels good. *Insider tip: If you have a small dog, they might like to ride on your tummy while you foam roll your back. Pete loves it*
- Hydrate. I wrote an article on this last year called Hydration Nation. Drinking enough fluid is key to performance and recovery. Fluid lubricates joints and prevents muscle cramping. If you are well hydrated, you will feel less fatigued after a long run or tough workout. The good thing is, water isn’t the only thing that helps you stay hydrated. While lots of caffeine can interfere with hydration, normal amounts of coffee or tea won’t.
Stretching and long yoga classes aren’t the only way to prevent injury. Make sure you take time to listen to your body and give it the recovery it needs, because you never know what awesome adventure will arise that you don’t want to miss! #gonnagetit