When it's time to RELAX + recover your body, you know. Here are my favorite ways to unwind and relieve my muscles from my workouts.
I have taught a lot of classes since the opening of Chestnut Hill Cycle Fitness, and there have been times where I wasn't sure how much more my body could physically take before an injury occurred or I just couldn't take the pain of tight and over-worked muscles any longer. As a fitness professional, I would never recommend to a single person that you should work out multiple times a week without rest days, or, at least designated recovery time set aside. It's more than the risk of injury that increases without recovery time, it is the sole fact that you WILL plateau and you WON'T see the results you want if your body has no time to re-build. You should not live your day-to-day life in any kind of consistent pain from your workouts. If your hips, lower back, feet or knees HURT, you must recover and take care of your body. There will be no longevity in your active lifestyle if you do not recover.
1. Stretch and Foam Roll
Foam rolling and stretching both go a LONG way in improving the quality of your tissue and muscles. When you are constantly contracting your muscles and shortening muscle tissue in your workouts (strength training, barre, spin and running), you must stretch and lengthen your muscle fibers in order to better repair them. Recovery time can increase and injury likelihood can too without stretching in between your workouts. The foam roller is my BEST friend when it comes to the principle of recovery. Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, or the breaking-up of tissue and adhesion's caused by exercise. This speeds up recovery from your workouts by repairing your muscle and connective tissue quicker, and aiding in overall better performance. Rolling your body out with the foam roller also increases circulation to your body part being rolled out, and is said to break up the appearance of cellulite. TWO BIRDS. One stone. Boom.
PS. We now have foam rollers at the studio for you to use post-spin or post-barre class. Ask us about some of the best positions and moves for your muscle recovery!
2. Epsom Salt Bath
In "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", the father of the bride swears that "Windex cures everything" and I feel the same way about Epsom Salts. Tired? Soak in the salts. Sore? Soak in the salts. Congested? SOAK in the salts (and add in some eucalyptus essential oil, duh!). But really: aside from the fact that taking a bath in general is just relaxing and lovely, when you add in these salts they are cleansing and have a way of aiding recovery by absorption through our skin. Epsom salt is really magnesium sulfate, which is a naturally occurring mineral that most of our diets are deficient in. Magnesium aids in the reduction of inflammation and plays an important role in neuromuscular signals and muscle contractions, and in other words, relaxes your muscles. The sulfate present in this mineral helps flush the body of toxins, and your skin will feel soft and recovered as well! Give it a try: my favorite is this kind, purchased on Amazon and is an American company based in San Francisco!
This is my all-time favorite supplement, EVER. Why? Because it 100% effects the way that I feel every day and I know that it works the way I want it to in my body. I take this about an hour before bed-time, once a day. One of these pills a day is plenty, and I take mine an hour or so before bed time (or right before dinner so that it can absorb with my food). I purchase the brand shown above, and you can buy it here. I'm just going to rattle off the list of benefits of taking magnesium regularly and how it pertains to better recovery from your workouts.
- Aids in relaxation of muscles, and thus allows your body to fully relax (great before bed time).
-Relaxes your digestive tract muscles, and therefor helps with smoother digestion (working out with a full-feeling or upset stomach is the worst and kills performance levels).
-Aids in anxiety and gives an overall "calm" feeling. (Huge relief for the big day before a race or taking a class you're anticipating).
-Because magnesium helps decrease cortisol, the "stress" hormone, it aids in an restful night of sleep, AKA, recovery.
And there you have it! These are my top 3 (BESIDES post-workout protein supplementation, which is it's own post coming soon!) recovery tricks or must-do's to help you shake out those stiff and sore, tired muscles. I hope you all take some time to appreciate all that your body accomplishes every day, and once in a while, give it a little R+R ;)
In love, light and wellness