If you love exercising, participating in outdoor activities, or competing in sports, it's natural to want to improve and excel. In our pursuit of reaching new levels of fitness or skill, we often focus solely on practicing more and pushing ourselves beyond our limits. However, we tend to overlook the importance of recovery, which is a critical element in any physical training program. Engaging in various activities like weightlifting, running, biking, and playing golf puts different types of stress on our body's tissues and structures, including fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and even our nervous system. These systems need to be challenged to create adaptations that build a stronger, more powerful, and resilient body capable of withstanding the demands of our favorite activities. However, we must also prioritize the necessary time, care, and strategy to facilitate the body's repair and growth processes, ultimately reducing the risk of injury.
When it comes to optimizing your recovery between training sessions, games, or outdoor adventures, there are a few non-negotiable factors that not only impact recovery but are also vital for your overall health and well-being.
"Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together." - Thomas Dekker
Sleep is one of the most essential ways to improve your overall health. A good night's rest provides your body with the opportunity to repair itself. Getting at least seven hours of sleep replenishes your body's systems, flushes out toxins, balances hormones, and re-energizes you for the next day.
Feed your body what it needs to rebuild and fortify itself by consuming a balanced diet of whole foods tailored to your activity levels and nutrient needs. It would be wise to consult a nutritionist to help you determine what is optimal for you. Staying hydrated is one of the most important steps you can take to aid in your body's recovery.
Rest Days/Listening to Your Body
Incorporating rest days into your training week is crucial for allowing your body to repair and regenerate. Don't fear "losing gains" because it won't happen. If you want to stay active for the rest of your life, you have to be patient with your progress. Listen to your body when you feel overworked, achy, or on the brink of illness. These signs indicate that you need to slow down and maybe take some time off.
Movement helps nourish the fascial tissues by providing them with essential nutrients, oxygen, and other substances needed for optimal health and function. When fluids stagnate within the fascia, tissues are deprived of nutrients, leading to decreased function, inflammation, and pain. Active recovery is an excellent way to promote fluid flow throughout the body and accelerate healing.
What is active recovery?
Active recovery, or active rest, consists of low-intensity and low-impact full-body activities or movements. This can include simple activities like walking, easy hikes or jogs, casual bike rides, or training sessions that involve active stretching. Active recovery is perfect to incorporate between intense training sessions because it keeps your body moving, aiding the recovery process.
Why is it important? What are the benefits?
Maximizing your recovery helps reduce the risk of overuse injuries and allows your body to adapt to the stimulus. Instead of doing nothing to rest, active recovery helps improve fluid circulation to various tissues, which boosts the recovery process and reduces soreness and stiffness. It can also help calm down our nervous system after intense training and daily stress.
What can an active recovery session look like?
An active recovery session can include a brisk walk, light jog, or a short bike ride lasting 15-20 minutes to get your circulation flowing. Following that, allocate 15-20 minutes to engage in total-body active stretching, which helps improve and maintain ranges of motion and joint health. An effective form of active stretching is Stick Mobility, which utilizes the length and leverage of a stick to perform full-body stretches along multiple lines of tension, effectively opening up the tightest areas. By applying pushing and pulling forces into the stick while stretching, you can create strength in these lengthened positions and facilitate blood flow through the tissues. You can find examples of active stretching routines on our YouTube page: