Is more really better?
There is a common misconception that more is better, but, when we physically exert ourselves too much for too long, our nervous system may respond negatively, leading to burnout, poor performance, chronic pain, and injuries. Whether you are learning how to recover from strenuous exercise or learning the importance of muscle recovery, it’s key to find tools that work for you after hard workouts.
So, sit back, relax, and read our top tips for rest and recovery after a workout.
Tip #1: Pack Your Recovery Food and Drink
Before and after crushing a workout, it’s important to fuel your body with plenty of water, as up to 60% of the human body is made of water. For athletes that workout for 60 minutes or more, certain sports drinks or natural waters can be used to help prevent dehydration. However, some of the best exercise recovery drinks can be made at home with honey, lime, and salt. If you are always on-the-go, try coconut water instead of sugary sports drinks.
Hard workouts keep us resilient, energized and definitely hungry! Refuel with snacks that provide good sources of fiber, collagen peptides, and protein to keep you full until meal time. Curious about collagen? In short, collagen is a structural protein that acts as the glue to our muscles, ligaments, tendons, and tissues. Think of it as an added protein bonus! Include collagen snacks in your gym bag like the Caveman Collagen Bar that has 11g of total protein which includes 5g of grass-fed collagen peptides, nuts, and dark chocolate.
Tip #2: Take Active Recovery DaysActive recovery days offer an opportunity to break up repetitive patterns from the same workouts we do. Through active recovery, the muscles we overuse have a
chance to recover and stay resilient, while we recruit other muscles to participate in a low-impact activity that still feeds our drive to stay active.
Here are some ideas to get your active recovery game on:
A low impact activity with plenty of cardiovascular demand to keep your lungs, mind, and body fresh and focused. This is a great supplement for individuals who do a lot of running, cycling, or other high impact endurance sports.
Take a break from your physical activities and give your brain something fun like crafts, painting, pottery, or game night. Allowing yourself to connect with others and explore smaller kinesthetic and cognitive abilities that give your brain a challenge and your body a break.
Getting in touch with the world outside your gym can be one of the most beneficial things for active recovery. Even if you live in an urban area, you can always find a tree-lined street or trail, tend the garden, or soak in the sun at a local park.
Tip #3: Restore with Yoga
Yoga classes are known to keep the whole body in equilibrium by allowing an outlet for stress, both physical and mental. Despite common myths claiming yoga classes are for those who are already flexible, in reality, they are accessible for anyone looking to improve their range of motion, break repetitive movements from their every day workouts, and naturally restore muscles. You can find a yoga practice for beginners, runners, or even for sleep with resources like Yoga International or Alo Moves.
Here are three introductory yoga poses for recovery to get you on your mat:
From hands and knees position, take your big toes together, knees can be wider than hips distance or together, hands extend forward with the elbows lifted off the ground
- Stretch for hip flexors, shoulders, and low back
- Option to walk your hands to the right and left to stretch the spine and shoulders even more
From seated position, bend both knees and place one ankle across the opposite thigh. Extend the top knee away from you on an exhale to feel a stretch.
- Stretch for the piriformis, hip flexors, and helps release sciatica pain
- Option to do this pose supine (on your back) and threading the hands to grab the hamstring or shin of the leg that is closest to the floor
Laying on your back with the feet forward, palms facing up or down. Release tension in the jaw. Option to place a cushion or towel behind the knees or head for support.
- Calming posture to down regulate sympathetic nervous system
- Promotes better quality of sleep and self-awareness
Tip #4: Invest in Better Sleep
Building momentum and accomplishing fitness goals doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, discipline, hard work, and don’t forget, a good night’s sleep! The quality and quantity of sleep we get each night is valuable for proper exercise recovery. Sleep is a powerful resource that has been shown to support a healthier immune system, lower stress, and our risk of cardiovascular disease. So, if being healthy matters to us, we really need to prioritize our sleep. Here are three quick ways to improve sleep recovery:
Cut the Sugar before Bed
Sleep recovery and performance is a growing conversation among scientists, especially around stimulants like sugar or caffeinated drinks that are part of individuals diet with five or few hours of sleep. Make sure you have balanced meals throughout your day and drink plenty of water to keep you full. For example, rather than a bowl of ice-cream after dinner, try a snack with 5g of sugar or less to keep you satisfied.
Unplug at least 30 minutes before bed
Try Yoga for Sleep
Devices off and don’t feel like reading a book? Incorporate progressive muscle relaxation into your bedtime routine. This 20-minute practice can support a relaxed state of mind to promote body awareness and sound sleep.
Staying hydrated, healthy nourishment, sleep, and optimizing daily habits are key to performance, longevity, and recovery. Remember that your journey is filled with learning experiences, hard work, and dedicated time to relax and recover.