Optimize your recovery!
Recovery isn’t just stretching. It’s also stress-releasing activities, stress management, sleep, and lots of recovery-based movement.
Let’s first start with stress. There are many different types of stress.
- Physiological stress: nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune conditions, medication side effects.
- Physical stress: the “good” stress, as long as we are not overdoing it and recovering between sessions.
- Mental and emotional stress: work, relationships, finances, health.
- Environmental stress: stimulants, our environment, toxins, chemicals, air quality.
How does stress affect our recovery?
Stress puts our bodies in sympathetic mode, whereas in order for us to recover we want to be in parasympathetic mode. If you are always in fight or flight mode, you will suffer from poor recovery, sleep, digestion, performance, mental concentration, energy, hormonal stress response and are more prone to injury and nutrient deficiencies.
What can I do?
- Ensure you are getting enough sleep.
- Prioritize nutrition via micronutrients.
- Eat enough macronutrients, especially carbohydrates.
- Partake in recovery-based activities (see more below).
- Spend time in nature.
- Eliminate stressful relationships.
- Take rest days between difficult sessions.
- Try deep belly breathing or box breathing.
- Play with animals or children.
- Make time for things that bring you joy.
- Work on a puzzle, listen to a meditation or go for a mindful walk.
- Attend a yoga class or a massage session.
Next up is sleep! Sleep is so underestimated these days. With our busy lives and chasing productivity, we often find ourselves sacrificing an hour or two (or four) of sleep!
What are the implications of inadequate sleep?
- Metabolic syndrome.
- Mood swings.
- Decreased productivity.
- CVD, obesity and metabolic diseases.
- Increased hunger and poor food choices.
- Weak performance in the gym.
- Insufficient recovery.
- Inflammatory bowels and an upset digestive system.
How can I improve my sleep?
- Refrain from using blue lights 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.
- Get 10 minutes of sunlight first thing in the morning and again mid-day.
- Keep your room DARK and COOL.
- Stay consistent with your sleep schedule.
- De-clutter your bedroom and use that room only for sleeping.
- Have a cold shower before bed.
- Do some journaling, reflection and goal-setting before bed.
- Try some belly breathing, box breathing, meditation or mindfulness.
- Cut out stimulants after 2-3 pm.
- Avoid intense exercise past 7 pm.
- Have a bedtime snack with some simple sugars and easily digestible protein.
Now for recovery! The more you do outside the gym to recover and prepare for your session, the better you can perform in that session, and therefore adapt and progress!
How can I make the most out of my recovery?
- Be sure to get your daily steps and general movement in.
- Increase your aerobic system to help with recovery from your anaerobic training sessions.
- Practice box breathing while walking.
- Try nasal breathing.
- Partake in contrast or cold showers.
- Add massages or foam rolling to your routine.
- Get in lots of stretching or yoga.
- Take Epsom salt baths.
- Boost your nutrition by consuming enough Macro and MICRO nutrients!!
Written by Diane Tuerke, Registered Kinesiologist, Certified Nutritional Practitioner and founder of Nourished Movement