Workout recovery is as important as the workout itself. It gives the body an opportunity to build and rebuild muscle bone and cells. Unfortunately, most of us grew up in the days of more is better, including working out. We were led to believe that the more we worked out, the better we would get. “No pain, no gain” was a common chant.
And, the more we exercised, the more weight we would lose, or we would at least be able to maintain our fitness and shape. When we were younger, this worked because we were growing both mentally and physically. The injuries that plagued us were part of the game. Sporadic sickness seemed a normal part of life. In recent years, researchers have found that rest and recovery are an important part of well being.
Active rest is a phrase frequently used in the world of athletics. It means doing a less intense activity than a HIIT workout, spin class, weightlifting, or run. Instead, you might do an easy swim, or go for a walk. You can also add an easy stretching routine or light yoga to a light workout. Do something active without it being overly strenuous. Many who have grown up working out at a high level, or who have made a workout a regular part of their day, have found that continual flat-out exercise is too hard on their bodies and like the idea of active rest.
Some think that this type of rest is not really a great form of workout recovery. Researchers now believe that a good vacation from working out promotes better overall well being, allows your body to rest properly and de-stresses your body and mind. A rest day where you use your usual workout day to do a little reading or meditating is believed to have great benefits if you are open to it.
Taking care of your body by eating and drinking things that help your body recover are very important tools. This includes eating foods that help your body recover like fruit, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and whole grains. Adequate hydration is essential, too. Good hydration helps your body remove toxins, and the water inside and outside the cells of contracting muscles provides adequate nutrients and removes waste efficiently so you perform better. Water is also important for lubricating joints, and you should replenish your electrolytes with Gatorade, Propel or similar drinks.
Another form of workout recovery is by the use of certain pieces of equipment, like foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and The Stick®.
These tools address a variety of issues and can be used on almost all parts of your body to encourage healing and better biomechanics, as well as increase strength, agility, and flexibility. They can be used in place of, or in addition to, massage and physical therapy. These tools help with recovery by increasing blood flow and addressing myofascial pain by applying pressure to trigger points. Direct firm pressure helps release the tension built up in those muscles.
Recovery shoes are a new direction in the theory of rest. These are comfortable shoes that can be used for casual use after working out. Two shoes that have caught my eye are Hoka One One and On brand shoes. Both are made by shoe companies known for their exceptionally comfortable workout shoes, and they offer recovery shoes that do not have laces, as well as recovery sandals. You can take advantage of the quality that these brands bring to their workout shoes while wearing their recovery shoes as you go about your day.
In our busy world of trying to squeeze more out of every minute, we need to remember our workout recovery. More and more, statistics show the necessity of it for our well being. Our workouts will be more productive and effective, and our days will be more pleasant with fewer aches and pains. With more efficient and varied workouts comes better sleep and clearer minds. All of this should lead to a more peaceful, less painful life. Let’s face it, we’ve earned it… so let’s take the breaks where we can get them!