Recovery and Rest - The Necessary Evil(s)
I am writing this article from a combination of personal experience, personal mistakes, and of course my professional knowledge!
First off, what do I mean by recovery? I mean every minute spent outside of the gym, you are basically recovering. Eating, sleeping, and eating are huge components of recovering well as an active person. Depending on how hard you are training, you will need to employ more or less recovery techniques. When I say recovery, I don't mean rest, necessarily. I will address that later in this article.
Well, what are some recovery techniques? There are so many! On the more expensive but higher quality end are things like massage, acupuncture, manual therapy, rolfing, etc.
But, there is a multitude of things you can do at home for minimal cost! Some of my favorites include:
-Foam rolling (you can buy a piece of 4" PVC pipe at Lowes for $15.00, works great and generally half the cost of the actual foam rollers)
-Tennis ball trigger point release (golf balls, lacrosse balls, ANY BALLS are great for all the crevasses of the body!)
-Sauna (if your gym has one)
-Epsom salt baths
-Ice baths (for those who are training at an advanced level)
-E-stim/TENS (you can buy them on amazon for like $30)
-Hot shower + stretching
These are some of my personal favorites and I will generally do a few of these things a few times a day, as I can. Now, on to rest!
While you are resting, you should definitely employ recovery techniques, meditation, and whatever else you enjoy personally to allow your Central Nervous System to relax. After all, thats what rest is all about! When you are training hard, I recommend spending at least 1 day a week truly resting- meaning napping as much as possible, working on your recovery techniques, and giving your body time to really repair itself and prepare for more training.
While I advocate for full rest days, I also think it is great to incorporate Active Recovery into your routine. Active Recovery is just another recovery technique that gets you moving, gets your blood pumping and helps distribute nutrients throughout your body. Your active recovery day activities will depend on what you are training for specifically. For example, if you are working through a program to gain muscle, you would warm-up, go through a few sets of full-body movements (maybe 2 sets of 12-15 each) at a low intensity and weight with lots of rest and stretching between sets. Or, if you are working to lose body fat, you could go for a fast-paced walk followed by some stretching. The idea is to get moving without straining your recovering CNS and muscles.
I generally recommend Active Recovery for my clients who are in the beginning to intermediate stages of training. Does that mean you shouldn't take rest days as a beginner or intermediate fitness enthusiast? NO! Everyone should incorporate a true rest day into their training split.
If you have questions about rest, recovery or want to learn more about anything, contact me, Ryan, and I will help you out!