Do you put off or ignore your recovery? Do you work hard in the gym and with your nutrition and hope it's enough? Being tired, and tight with reduced range of motion each session will only get you so far. Putting some time and effort into recovery will allow you to achieve more than you thought you could.
When recovering from physical activity, many focus on stretching and foam rolling, but sleep also plays a critical role. Quality sleep benefits both body and mind, enhancing overall well-being and preventing burnout. Studies show that individuals who get over 6 hours of sleep per night report less fatigue and soreness (Edgar and team). Today's distractions, such as phones, TVs, tablets, video games, and socialising, can make establishing a consistent sleep routine difficult. However, setting a certain time to turn off screens and allocating time for reading or meditation before bed can help prepare the body and mind for rest.
After completing a demanding week of resistance training, I found myself feeling quite sore and stiff upon arriving at MINDZERO in Myrtle Beach. However, I was introduced to a practice similar to contrast water therapy, which is known to effectively alleviate muscle fatigue and soreness (Fonseca and team). The therapy involves alternating between hot (sauna) and cold water immersion which helps to improve blood circulation and reduce inflammation. The therapy worked wonders, and the very next day I felt entirely rejuvenated and ready to tackle my next workout with ease. The switching between heat and cold was also a mental challenge and many people there came away with a huge sense of achievement and felt uplifted and brave by their ability to overcome a challenge.
Massage is one of the most commonly used practices for recovery. From foam rolling to the use of a theragun to seeing a masseuse. Some forms- for example, deep-tissue massage and foam rolling- can feel somewhat unpleasant at the time but the benefits are felt throughout the following days with reduced tightness and increased range of motion. Less intense forms can be relaxing, and you walk away feeling like a load of weight has been lifted from you. Plenty of research supports the use of massage to recover from exercise. Naderi and team suggested this and also found that massage can help reduce balance impairments after exercise. For some people, a trip to a massage therapist is a ‘treat yourself’ experience, but foam rollers and massaging equipment can be kept in the home. Don’t put off your recovery just because you don’t have time to see a professional!
Sleep is a significant and sometimes overlooked aspect of recovery. Find yourself a routine that helps get you to bed and asleep to achieve the quantity and quality to feel refreshed the next day. Your body will feel substantially better when you exercise.
There is plenty of research which suggests different methods of recovery are beneficial and there is research which suggests they have no effect on recovery or mental health. However, in terms of recovery, the main question you need to ask yourself is: do I think it worked? Do I feel better after trying this? When you find methods of recovery you like, find space for them in your daily routine. For example, roll and stretch in the evening while watching the TV, book appointments to see a massage therapist or MINDZERO and stick to them. Recovery is more than trying to stretch or roll when you already feel tight, it should be completed every day to help the body between exercise sessions.