If you follow any of our social media channels or have shopped around the website, you’ve seen us say this before, but we’ll say it again: a good recovery plan is just as important as a good workout plan.
As much as we’d like to think so, unfortunately, we’re not invincible superheroes. While we might feel great during a challenging workout and even better right after, this high can quickly be replaced by pain and soreness. Whether navigating physically demanding professions in the military or staying fit while launching a business in grad school, we've found that having a solid set of recovery tools allows for our broken-down bodies to repair, for our muscles to rebuild damaged tissues, and to ultimately come back stronger and better than yesterday.
Just like the right workout looks different for everyone, recovery is unique and dependent on how your body responds to work and fatigue. What works for me may not be right for you. It may take some experimentation to see what sticks, but here are a few tips that work for us across both rest and active recovery.
Stretch & Foam Roll
Most of us are on busy schedules, squeezing in a workout in between meetings, and wanting to immediately move on with our days after we’re done. However, stretching even for just 10 minutes post-workout gives our bodies time to cool down, to rehabilitate muscle fibers, and to improve blood circulation - contributing mightily to muscle recovery. Additionally, targeted techniques with a foam roller or handheld massager are also great for adding pressure to certain muscles to reduce muscle soreness in specific areas.
Remember that stretching and foam rolling can be incorporated pre-workout, post-workout, and on non-workout days. The foam roller is your friend!
Hydrate and Eat a Sensible Diet
Drink more water. Water not only flushes toxins out of the body, transports nutrients into the cells, and helps regulate body temperature and pH balance, but it also aids in muscle soreness and tension. It’ll effectively replenish the liquids, electrolytes, and sodium lost during exercise.
Hand in hand with hydration is a balanced diet. Eating any time from right after to three hours post-activity is essential to gaining back lost nutrients. Combining carbs with protein after a workout has been shown to help replenish glycogen (what your body uses for energy) and repair muscle tissue. No need to overly stress and count all the macros of your meals if that’s not your thing; simply stay away from lots of overly processed foods and sweets, and focus on vegetables, good fats, lean meats (if you’re into it;), and some fruit. Simple is good. We recommend looking into the Paleo, Keto, and Whole30 diets, but, more than anything, just pick a mode of eating that's consistent with your lifestyle that you'll be able to stick to.
While athletic or power yoga may not be the move for recovery, a more restorative or gentle yoga class might be the push you need to lengthen the muscle tissues and improve mobility and range of motion. Yoga teaches body awareness and is also wonderful for unwinding mentally after tough days in the office. Remember that recovery not only applies to the physical body but also the mind; tough workouts can be mentally taxing, and moments of mindfulness are powerful.
Get Quality Sleep
Our bodies heal and restore when we sleep by maintaining the right body temperature, blood pressure, and hormonal balances. Even one night of sleep deprivation can hurt performance. While everyone needs a different amount of sleep, the average is anywhere between seven and nine hours.
However, hitting 8 hours of sleep doesn’t necessarily mean your body is getting the quality sleep it needs. Try to find a healthy bedtime routine that works for you. Ours? We set our phones and other electronics down at least an hour before bed, take VRB Rest, do a 10-20 minute meditation, and read until we are out! A natural supplement like VRB Rest provides us with the nutrients critical to recovery, including Organic Hemp Seed Oil, CBD Isolate, Lavender, Chamomile, and more.
Appreciate the work your body puts in and make the effort to make recovery part of your routine. A rest day is recommended about once or twice every week depending on your level of exertion. With that said, recovery techniques and tools should be part of your daily wellness practice.
Listen to your body. If you had a difficult workout yesterday and you want to rest, we’re not saying you have to lay on the couch the entire day (although you totally can!). But if your body is calling for some movement, go on an easy hike or call up a friend to take a candlelit yoga class. You don’t need to be performing at 200% every single day; your body and mind need rest and recovery to maximize your performance when you need it. Work, Rest, Repeat.