Recovery can seem like a bad word. Like you’ve done something terrible to yourself that you must atone for. In terms of exercise, recovery is absolutely necessary in order to progress. Recovery is the yin to exercise’s yang. Rest is a crucial part of muscle building and to make changes in soft tissue quality. This is not to say “rest” is laying on your couch for a year, but we do encourage you to plan rest and recovery into your fitness routine.
Recovery is my physical therapist word for taking good care of yourself. In any aspect of life, it does not seem very healthy to constantly and doggedly do the same things over and over until you fail. Human beings need a variety of movements to stay healthy and to avoid overtraining injuries.
Cross training is a great way to provide variation of movement. This is extra important if your sport tends toward repetitive movements like biking, running, hiking or swimming. Cross training can be any sport, movement or activity that is different than your most typical way of exercising.
Stretching and Foam Rolling
Stretching and foam rolling the tight muscle groups are great ways to move in more gentle ways to promote recovery.
Give Your Body What It Needs
This is a story we’ve all heard before: sleep, eat well, listen to your body. Sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge. The CDC recommends 7-8 hours a night for adults. Putting good things into your body (like nutritious food and enough water) are like the fuel to your engine. You’ll need all these things to exercise and train successfully. Each person is different in what works best for them.
Plan Your Rest and Recovery Ahead of Time
Fitting in all of these things can be daunting. Many of us can hardly make the time to exercise at all. One thing I often hear from my patients is that they only have so much free time and want to spend it doing their favorite activity, be it running, dancing or hiking. However, without proper recovery, the risk of injury increases and people end up in the clinic (bittersweet, eh?). Making the time to do these things makes you a more well-rounded athlete and gives you more successful movement.
So break out your planner and make a forecast for your week! If you need help with recovery from training (or help with an injury) please contact a physical therapist.