Self-care is an important part of any fitness regime but we often don’t give it as much attention as it needs. The majority of people who are into fitness do it for vanity reasons and having more flexible hamstrings or being able to move comfortably isn’t as important as how those muscles look or how strong they are.
But taking time to look after our bodies more is extremely important and can often lead to improved gains in strength and muscle size and definition as well as benefiting our overall health.
In a balanced fitness regime you would have a combination of physical workouts to improve strength and fitness and restorative sessions to help the body recover and improve function.
We live hectic lives and are often rushing around and doing fast paced workouts that build up stress in the body. The calmer sessions will help relax the nervous system and reduce stress and in turn that will have a positive effect on your overall health and well-being.
There are many ways of adding more self care into your week from a fitness perspective, a few of which are listed below:
Foam rolling or self-myofascial release is like a self deep tissue massage. This is a great tool for improving flexibility as well as the quality and function of your muscle tissues. Unfortunately it can be uncomfortable and a little painful at times but anyone who has had a deep tissue massage can relate to it.
Foam rolling works by assisting in breaking up muscle knots, resuming normal blood flow and muscle function. It can also improve the flexibility and elasticity of the muscles and decrease recovery time after a workout.
Start by slowly rolling up and down the length of the chosen muscle. Don’t roll over a joint or a bone prominence.
You will find bits that are painful and it is these parts you want to stop on and hold. Try to find the centre point of the painful area and hold on it. You should slowly start to feel the muscle releasing, and after five to thirty seconds the discomfort or pain should
If an area is too painful to apply direct pressure, shift the roller and apply pressure on the surrounding area and gradually work to loosen the entire area. Remember to take slow deep breaths.
After rolling, sleep well, eat well and drink lots of water. To get the best results you need to get into a regular program of rolling. If you are following our guidelines and training four times a week I suggest you use the foam roller after every workout session you do.
Static stretching alongside foam rolling can further improve your flexibility and mobility. You need to try and get into a regular stretching routine and do it two to three times a day to see good results.
It only takes a few minutes to stretch off the major muscle groups so everyone can find the time. Breathing is also key to static stretching and foam rolling. You need to relax and take deep slow breaths, in through the nose and out through the nose or mouth. Your breath should travel into your abdomen, expanding your lower belly first, and then moving up into your diaphragm, chest and collarbones.
Aim to hold each stretch for between 20 to 30 seconds.
Quality sleep is perhaps the most underrated yet one of the best ways you can look after your body and mind. Most of us undervalue our time spent asleep and the effect it has on our body. But sleep is the time for our body and mind to recover and repair and we need more of it that we think. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night as a minimum!
Founder of TONIQ
What helps you recover from a training session? Let us know in the comments below. Share this with someone who you know would benefit from reading this. The U Perform family loves sharing ideas and encouraging each other.