The Basics and Importance of Recovery
By Eric Marionneaux, Rock Star Coach at FormWell!
Recovery from workouts is often overlooked until an injury or joint pain occurs. If we are more preventative and incorporate better recovery strategies into our lives then the stronger we become!
Allowing for recovery after a workout is the best way to prevent future problems from over training. The time allowed for recovery is what allows our body to adapt to the stress put on it from our workouts. A common misconception is that we get stronger and build muscle during our workouts, but this is the time when we are actually breaking down muscle tissue! During our rest and recovery is when the body rebuilds itself to be stronger and adapt to the stress from the workout. If the body is constantly under stress then it has no time to rebuild itself and we start to become over trained. If you are experiencing prolonged muscle soreness (over 72 hours), increased joint pain and inflammation, having restless sleep, or feeling more unmotivated than usual then these can be signs you could be over training and need to focus on your recovery. Here are the most important tools to use!
Adequate Rest Time
As mentioned, allowing time for the body (muscles AND central nervous system) to recover is essential. It can take 48 hours for muscles to recover from an intense strength training workout so try to avoid hitting the same muscle groups with weights 2 days in a row. However, not being active at all can lead to longer recovery times. Instead perform cardio and active recovery exercise between strength training days.
Sleep is the most important rest time for us because that is when hormones that are optimal for recovery and building muscle are at their highest. Try to get as much adequate sleep as you can even if it means going to bed earlier. Every hour less of sleep you get a night adds up every consecutive night that you do so. This means that if for 1 week you are getting 1 hour less of sleep than you need every night, by the end of that week it would be the same on your body as not sleeping at all for 1 full night!
Eating the right foods and drinking enough water is essential to recovery as well! Most people are lacking in the amount of protein they have in their diet, which can lead to decreased recovery. A great way to know and keep track of the food you eat is using an app called MyFitnessPal. Use this to monitor your daily caloric intake and see how much fat, carbs, and protein you are getting in. Talking with a professional is the best way to know for sure what your specific goals should be. Including the nutritional counseling offered by FormWell is a great way to keep accountability with your nutrition and stay on the right track!
Stretching after a workout is part of the regimen that is most often overlooked, even by people who know they should! Avoiding this for too long will lead to extremely tight muscles that will start pulling on joints and causing pain. The older we get the less flexible our muscles become. Just as with weight loss, flexibility is easier to maintain than improved on later down the road. Start incorporating stretches at the end of every workout for the main muscle groups that tend to tighten up the most and cause issues in joints, such as the hamstrings and glutes. Another great way to improve flexibility is to start incorporating yoga into your routine!
Massage and Foam Rolling
Deep tissue massage is an excellent way to recover by loosening up tight muscles and working out tight spots that can occur from working out. Luckily, FormWell has an amazing Massage Therapist that is a great at this type of massage and loosening up any problem areas! Since having a massage is not practical to do everyday though the next best thing to incorporate is foam rolling. Have a trainer show you how to use one and you can use it before and/or after your workouts to loosen tight areas, increase blood flow, and improve your mobility and flexibility!
Relieving stress becomes more and more important the more crazy and hectic our lives become! The build up of stress, both physically and psychologically, can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds. When we are stressed our body releases a hormone called cortisol which triggers the breakdown of muscle for energy. If we are constantly stressed then we will be having a much tougher time recovering from our workouts! Try to have at least 20-30 minutes daily where you can unload and relax, whether it is by sitting alone in a quiet spot or going for a walk. Walking on a nature trail significantly lowers cortisol levels more than walking along side a busy road too so try to make it in as peaceful and calm of an area as possible!
Recovery time is just as important as the workout time. Using these tools will help you feel better, perform better in your workouts, and avoid a set back by over training!