Whether you're an established "gym rat" or you're looking to form some new healthy habits, it can be easy to become preoccupied with the "doing," ignoring the time between training. While rest days are extremely important to any fitness goals, no matter how big or small, rest and recovery are tools you should have in your "fitness toolbox." Here are some ideas to incorporate recovery into your fit lifestyle.
Sleep and Rest
We know, we know. You've heard this a thousand times. Bear with us! When you exercise, you create microscopic tears in your muscle fibers that your body works to repair. When you rest, your muscles replenish their glycogen stores which were broken down to fuel your exercise, and rebuild your muscle tissues so they're stronger than before. Without adequate rest, these processes do not have adequate time to do their job and can lead to injury. Depending on the type of exercise you're doing and what your goal is, not getting adequate rest and over-exercising can actually backfire, prolonging the time it takes you to reach your goals.
Getting enough sleep is important for many reasons, but letting your body repair itself is a big one. Make sure you're getting adequate sleep to see improved performance. Interestingly, keeping active helps you sleep better, so exercise and sleep are mutually self-supporting. Amazing!
Generally speaking, hydration is super important, especially living in a hot and humid climate. If you find getting enough fluids to be challenging, try some of these tricks:
Slice up some citrus, cucumber, or chops some herbs to add some flavor.
Try carbonated water (but avoid added sugars). There are many zero-calorie and low-calorie carbonated water options in stores. If you're a big fan of the bubbles, consider investing in a SodaStream device for unlimited bubbles at home without the waste.
Does your water need to be ice cold for you to keep drinking it? Invest in a nice, insulated cup that you can refill throughout the day. Note how many fluid ounces it holds and calculate how many times you need to refill throughout the day to reach the number of ounces you need.
Protein intake is important both pre- and post-workout. After a workout, it is good to consume 20-40 grams of protein to assist with muscle repair. Everyone's protein needs are different, depending on their current regimen and goals, so consider speaking with your physician or one of our PTs to find out how much protein is best for you.
Tart Cherry Juice
Dealing with muscle soreness? Try 2 ounces of tart cherry juice! Our instructor, Kerry, swears by it. It is anti-inflammatory and can help reduce muscle soreness.
Foam rollers are available for use in our gym and can be purchased affordably in stores like Target or TJMaxx, and online on Amazon. Foam rolling both pre- and post-workout has its benefits.
Foam rolling after a workout is almost like a mini-massage post-workout. Studies have shown foam rolling can help lessen DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Soreness happens anyway, though, and that is where foam rolling before your workout comes in. It helps waken up the muscles, work out any knots (or "myofascial adhesions" if you want to get smartypants about it), improve range of motion, and reduce chances of injury.
Foam roll before workouts, after workouts, or as often as you like! If you only have time for one roll session, the most recent research indicates foam rolling before workouts has the most benefits.
Match your Recovery to your Training
Certain recovery methods work particularly better with certain types of training.
HIIT: 15 minutes of cool down and stretching. A cup of coffee (seriously!)
Weightlifting: Massage or foam rolling.
Marathon/running: Epsom salt bath. Tart cherry juice.
Take it "Easier"
Maybe taking a day off training is out of the question, and if that's the case, make your days "off" the days where you do lower impact exercises, such as walking, jogging, swimming, or deep stretching.