4 Recovery Methods That Will Make You Feel Pampered!

Man foam rolling quadsMost people go to the gym to get fitter, but the truth is you don't get fitter at the gym! I know, sacrilege! But, it's the period between workouts that your waist shrinks and your muscles grow. Many trainers call recovery the most overlooked part of fitness.

You probably know a few of the key points to optimizing recover: Getting at least seven hours of sleep every night, consuming protein at every meal and allowing at least 24 hours between exercise sessions. Keep reading to find out more. These may feel more like pampering, but doing any (or all) of them between your workouts can help you recover faster and tap into greater strength, power, stamina, and energy.

Workouts can leave you sore and achy! Check out these 4 recovery methods that will make you feel pampered! Click To Tweet

Method #1: Massage

It's like heaven, having a pair of expert hands work out the knots and adhesions from your muscles and it can help with post-exercise soreness and inflammation, speeding recovery, according to a study by Canadian researchers. That same study found that it can also boost activity in mitochondria, enhancing cellular energy production. Here are four more reasons to shell out the money for a professional massage: Research shows that it can also reduce anxiety and back pain, it can improve the quality of your sleep, and it can lower blood pressure. Do you like a little pain with your pleasure? Go for a deep tissue massage. Or do you want something more soothing? Choose either a Swedish massage or a hot rock treatment (I love those). Want to save some money? Invest in a foam roller, or if you want the deep tissue type, try the rumble roller (one my favorite roller) and massage yourself. Give each muscle group at least five rolls, starting at the calves and working your way up. If you have a tight (painful) spot, focus on it for 30-45 seconds.

Method #2: Stretching

Nothing fancy here, it's free, easy, and you can do it anywhere. Get into a position that lengthens an area that needs attention and hold it for 30-60 seconds. For me, it's bending at the hips, fingers towards the floor, this stretches the back of my legs. I'll also use a chair to bend forward. This is a proven modality that reduces soreness, relaxing tight muscles, and improves mobility.

“Many people are too rushed to include stretching after their workouts, making it a perfect recovery day activity,” says ISSA Elite Trainer Angelo Poli, co-owner of Whole Body Fitness in Chico, California. “Take your time, sink into each stretch and enjoy it.”

Method #3: Yoga

I know a lot of people think you need to be a contortionist, or at least you have to be super flexible. Well, that's just not true and I'm a perfect example! I've never been able to touch my toes without bending my knees or any of the other typical tasks people with just a little flexibility do.

I've done yoga off and on for the past 20 years and if you've never tried this mobility-boosting form of exercise, you should—especially if you enjoy activities that work the body, mind and soul. A couple of studies from 2005 suggest that yoga is effective in reducing both anxiety and depression, other research shows that it can lower blood pressure and blood sugar, and the big one it can slow again by increasing DNA-protective telomerase. In yet another study, the indications were that a consistent yoga practice can improve bone density and prevent fractures in older practitioners.

Because we're talking about recovery here, stay away from Bikram or “hot” yoga, and the more athletic styles. Instead, try Hatha, Yin, or a “recover” class at a traditional studio on your off days. If you prefer to practice at home, try Beachbody's ten basic yoga poses for total body healing.

Method #4: Feldenkrais

You may have never heard of Feldenkrais, but it's a real thing you can find stand-alone studios, or there are some chiropractors who do it. It resembles a hybrid of massage, physical therapy, and meditation and it is worth the effort to find someone who does it. The results are often immediate&8212;a single session with a practitioner can relieve muscle tension, undo dysfunctional movement patterns, and leave you moving with more ease and less pain. Focusing on retraining the brain and nervous system with small, specific movements, rather than squeezing your muscles and joints, Feldenkrais has been shown to improve balance, reduce chronic pain, and increase movement efficiency.

In a one-on-one session, a practitioner moves your limbs, trunk, and head in subtle ways to assess where the client is holding tension, then guides you through more functional movement patterns. An instructor in groups classes guides you verbally through a series of movements that resemble crawling, rolling, and sitting up.

Some Closing Thoughts…

I love some easy, light yoga, for stretching! But, I always seem to have certain spots in my muscles that attract aches and pains. For these, when I can't get a message, I love some foam rolling! The large rollers I talked about above are great for large areas, like the back, but I find controlling them for smaller areas to be tough. To maintain great control and really get into those tight spots, I'll use a half-sized foam roller or a short rumbble-roller. And as a bonus, these short rollers fit perfectly into my gym bag!

Do you have any hints about feeling better after your workouts? Let me know in the comments. Or, if you would like help getting back into shape, I'd love to help you design a workout routine that you can use! Just let me know!

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