Building on last week’s sleep feature, this week we are taking a bit of a closer look at some of the other ways we can up our recovery game!
Whether you are first time fitness give it a goer, or a seasoned professional at the top of your game, adequate and regular rest and recovery is essential to maintaining optimal high performance. But, taking time out to not exercise sounds counterproductive, right? WRONG.
As much as training and exercise makes us feel really good (physically and mentally), periods of rest and recovery are actually where we make all the gains we are training so hard for. As we discussed last week, sleep is the most effective and accessible recovery strategy out there and there are so many simple ways we can get the most out of every second we spend asleep.
Similarly, practising other recovery methods is an equally important part of your daily self-care routine and we think everyone should try and make some time every day to practice them.
In today’s blog, we are delving into the archives a little to get the advice from none other than our very own Fitness and Qigong Expert, Arron Collins-Thomas.
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 performing a deep tissue massage on yourself. 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 and in time you will get used to the sensations and find a level of pressure that suits you.
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. These are called trigger points. You should slowly start to feel the muscle releasing, and after five to thirty seconds the discomfort or pain should lessen.
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.
This is a little less conventional compared to stretching and foam rolling for example but it is certainly being practised more and more as time goes on.
Moving meditations like yoga, Tai-Chi and Qigong are exactly what they say on the tin. Meditation through movement. After all, meditation doesn't always have to be about sitting in silence, with a clear mind at the top of a waterfall. That's just not realistic for most people.
Instead, moving meditations allow us to be mindful and present as you would expect from meditation but doing so through our focus and control over purposeful movements and routines.
For those of you who like to challenge the mind and body. Moving meditations like yoga and Qigong can actually be quite demanding and can almost be a workout in themselves.
Founder of TONIQ
And there you have it, our one stop guide to sports recovery and self-care. What other self-care tips and tricks do you have up your sleeve? Let us know in the comments below. Don't forget to share this blog with someone who you know would benefit from reading this. The U Perform family loves sharing ideas and encouraging each other.