The topics of recovery and self-care are pretty hot in the fitness industry. These topics have some strong merit and are worth discussing, especially given how confusing social media and the internet can be when it comes to deciding your recovery and self-care methods. We would like to simplify it.
For the purposes of this blog, we will consider “recovery” to be about the physical side of health and “self-care” to be about the mental and emotional side. While separate in some senses, there is strong overlap between the two and they are often closely intertwined.
First thing – you can only train as hard as you can recover. Read that again. Then read one more time. If you want to continue crushing your goals and making progress, your recovery must be equally as focused. You can’t keep training at a full gas tank level of intensity when the gas tank is only a quarter full. For every penny you withdraw from the bank for training, you need to make an equal or greater deposit for recovery.
Recovery is different for everyone. It can also be different from year to year, month to month, and sometimes even week to week. Your recovery will go through natural fluctuations along with your activity levels, fitness levels, and lifestyle. The way you recovered from training last year might be dramatically different this year. Maybe you changed jobs, opened a business, got divorced, changed fitness goals, changed type of physical activity, had a child, got injured….all while getting another year older. Age and lifestyle will dramatically affect how you recover from activity as well as the time it takes to recover. Embrace the change that will happen when it comes to choosing recovery methods. Be okay with being different than before.
Recovery methods can take many forms: a full day off, massage, yoga, stretching, sauna, ice bath, hot tub, cardiovascular work, naps, low intensity movement (active recovery), quality sleep, or mobility sessions. While there is conflicting science out there about what works best for recovery, the BEST recovery method is one that you can access easily (for consistency) and that, you know……actually helps you feel recovered! Recovery should have you feeling GOOD and ready to train again.
This year, or even this month, your recovery might be more focused on managing the stress of life rather than managing the stress of exercise. That is where self-care can come in and have a lot of benefit. Self-care can help you recover physically as well, since taking care of your mental and emotional health will help you train at a higher level and with greater longevity. Sometimes we are mentally exhausted, even on a full physical gas tank. When this happens, taking time to ‘reset’ mentally or check out of life is very needed.
Some of the most popular forms of self-care are: disconnecting from technology, coffee with a friend, Netflix and chill, therapy, walking the dog, walking in nature, yoga, bath and a book, quiet time with a book, day at the spa, time away, and quality sleep.
At the end of the day – simplify and choose a recovery and/or self-care method that works for you and that you can stick to. Because like all things in life and exercise, CONSISTENCY IS KEY.
What matters is that you feel recovered, regenerated, and rejuvenated from your recovery and self-care routine, regardless of what method you use.
Shara Vigeant, BA, NSCA-CPT*D, CFSC