So now that we’re no longer offering a recovery day on Thursdays at the gym, some of you might not be taking the time anymore to care for your bodies. I get it, when you’re done working out, all you want to do is get home and treat yourself to a well-deserved Netflix and Chinese Food date with you and those sore legs of yours from all those damn wallballs. That sounds way more sexy than pulling out that old yoga mat and doing some stretching, rolling around on the floor like a turtle on its back on top of some balls or foam logs, or trying to play around with bands like you’re some lame version of spiderman.
However, this might change your mind! A lot of us think that when we’re working out and breathing hard, that’s when we’re adapting to our workouts, when in reality, it’s what you do the other 23 hours of the day that either hurts or helps you adapt to working out. As put by this article by T-Nation, “[…]proper use of restorative measures will:
Basically, recovering helps you go back to the gym and do more each day you workout. (By the way, if you REALLY want to dig into the fancy mumbo-jumbo of recovery, feel free to glance through the rest of the article. Just be warned, some of their recovery methods are pretty advanced, so don’t worry when you read “Restorative Pulse Electromyostimulation” and have no f*cking idea what that means.)
So now that recovery seems sexy, what exactly does recovering mean? For most of us, recovery just means doing some longer periods of stretching at home, rolling out on something that will dig into all those tight, nasty knots we’ve got tucked away by our shoulders and back, and making sure our legs actually work the next day so we can walk up and down stairs.
Some easy at-home stretches you can do are:
While stretching is really great at helping your muscles, one often underlooked aspect of recovery is your brain. One simple way to help reset our brain from stress, worry, and the general fatigue it takes from working out and living your daily life is mindfulness. What is mindfulness? It is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Here are a couple easy steps you can take to help yourself be more mindful, as taken from mindful.org’s post about mindful breathing
Mindful breathing: Basically just bringing all your attention and focus in on your breathing. You don’t have to worry about taking super long inhalations and then holding them, just focus on your natural breathing and the effect it has on your body without judgement. Focus on what rises and falls, what feels heavy or light, but just do that: feel it, don’t try to think it’s either good or bad. Feel the weight of your body in your chair, couch, bed, wherever you may be, just focus and concentrate fully on your body and just feel around! Use each exhale as a way to release tension.
You can couple this with the stretches mentioned above or even practice mindfulness while you walk, watch a movie, hangout with friends and family, even eat!
That brings us to our last tip for recovery: eat. Your body is basically in a state of repair and rebuilding and it needs food to, you know, repair and rebuild! If you don’t feed your body, it has to pull energy from other sources (like itself, which isn’t good). You don’t want all that work you put in the gym to go to waste, do you? Then eat! Make sure you stay on top of your diet on your off days, especially.