By Miguel J. Ortiz
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of exercise recovery? This is an important question to ask yourself as your first answer usually leads to what you may need most. If not, it can help you understand what your body may need. So, take your time introducing recovery work into your regiment as it will tremendously help any goal. From weight loss to strength training, recovery work is essential.
There are a lot of different ways you can introduce recovery into your daily routine. From general massage treatment to sleep or foam rolling and stretching classes, we understand there are plenty of recovery techniques we can use but where do we start? Here are my top three tips on how to introduce recovery work into your exercise routine.
First, do warm ups and cool downs. This is by far the most underutilized part of a workout, especially for adults. When you’re on any sports team, coaches will always give the players a warm up consisting of light stretching, calisthenics, etc. It’s a start that is done at every practice and game. So, why do we stop when we get older? The main reason is because people will say they don’t have enough time. But have you considered efficiency? When you warm up the body with stretching and light movements it can prevent injury, help increase fat burning during the workout, increase muscular contractions and reduce stiffness. I recommend starting with at least 5-10 minutes of light stretching before exercise and 5-10 minutes after for a cool down. You may think it’s taking away from the workout, but you will feel stronger and more efficient during your exercise routine.
Second, for every hour of work spend half the time on recovery. Yes this is outside and not included in the warm up and cool down, as sometimes you may need more to fully recover. This has been a huge game changer for people finding themselves still sore after workouts. If you worked out for 40 minutes (don’t include the warm up and cool down period) then stretch for an additional 20 minutes when you get home. To prioritize this, make sure to concentrate on muscle groups that are really giving you a hard time. If you have been really sore in your hamstrings, take some time to stretch/massage those areas. If you are having trouble doing it yourself, this is where getting a massage or hiring a professional can help.
Third, lengthen before you strengthen. Regardless of the muscle groups, your training always ensures you can lengthen the muscle to its full capacity or as best as possible before you begin to strengthen it. This concept has helped me tremendously when it comes to muscular efficiency. If a muscle is already tight then doing strength training will only tighten it up even more. This can lead to improper movement patterns, poor exercise form, increased soreness, lack of oxygen and blood flow to certain areas and even start to cause joint pain. When a muscle can be used for its full potential you’ll notice it can also help with muscular growth, general increase of strength, prevent joint pain, help with proper form and help neuromuscular efficiency.
These three tips will help you increase your recovery, relax those sore muscles and crush future workouts. The faster you can recover, the faster you can get back to moving. Recovery is essential to your progress and should not be taken for granted. Have fun with your workouts and always remember to stretch when you have some extra time, it will do your body good.
Miguel J. Ortiz is a personal trainer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the National Personal Trainer Institute and a Certified Nutritional Consultant with more than a decade of professional experience. He can be found on Instagram at @migueljortiz.