Recently I told you all about my new (and killer) workout plan. The plan fits around my schedule and only has me in the gym four days a week, totally doable right? I have been getting stronger and leaner each week, feel like I have much more energy, and feel great that I am consistently doing something healthy for my body. But, of course there’s a but, a few weeks in I started having pain in just about every joint in my body. My knees, shoulders and back were all screaming at me to please stop whatever it is I am doing to them! I thought, people do this stuff all the time without being in constant pain, what gives? A very (if not the most) important part of my training plan was missing, active recovery.
Active recovery can mean a lot of different things and should be individualized. It is some sort of light activity, usually just enough to get your heart rate up, blood pumping, and to increase flexibility. Here are 3 things I have added to my routine to ease the pain in my muscles and joints. Plus, I feel stronger and more confident during my workouts!
Active Recovery #1 Foam Rolling
A good foam rolling session is just what the doctor ordered to save my achy muscles. Foam rolling is kind of like giving yourself a deep tissue massage, without the $100+ price tag. Foam rolling releases tension in the muscles caused by weight lifting and can help improve flexibility. The research is still on the fence, but some studies suggest that foam rolling promotes arterial and vascular function, creating a better environment for blood flow and tissue repair. Not sure where to begin? Check out this GUADS article to get you started!
Active Recovery #2 Static Stretching
With all the new fancy fitness equipment out there, and yoga studios on every corner, it seems as though some people have forgotten about the good ol’ fashioned stretch after a workout. Soft pliable muscles are what allow us to have complete range of motion, to be able to sit and stand, and to lift things up over our heads. Flexibility is an important component in injury prevention. Tight muscles that result from training reduce your natural range of motion, therefore leaving you susceptible to injury and diminishing your ability to perform certain movements properly. For example, tight muscles in the hips (iliopsoas) can cause lower back pain, diminishing your ability to perform exercises like squats and single leg deadlifts.
Active Recovery #3 Yoga
Ah yes, yoga. I could go on and on… and on, about the benefits of yoga for overall health. Today we are talking about recovery from weight lifting. Yoga helps improve flexibility and range of motion. It improves balance and coordination, which assists with all your weight-lifting and training movements. One thing yoga really helps with that improves recovery is improved sleep quality. Yoga’s meditative characteristics help ease pain in your body and helps you sleep better. More ZzZ’s equals faster recovery! If you don’t take a yoga class or follow along to a youtube video at least once a week, I highly suggest that you start. Your body (and mind) will thank you!
Article written by GUADS Staff Member Chelsea with contributions from NSCA.