Jacob recently wrote a great post about the importance of cooling down & how this plays in performing better tomorrow. (If you haven’t read, do yourself a favor and go read it after reading this.) Cooling down is a crucial piece to one’s recovery regimen, but it is not the only piece and I want to cover some of those other pieces in the post. I am not going to go into too much detail because I can probably geek out on this stuff entirely too much and most people don’t care about the details they just want to know what they need to do. The main point I want to make is this: if you want better results and do not have a recovery regimen – this could be where you are missing it. Take recovery as serious as you take your workouts.
Understand that the benefit of the work you do in the gym will depend on how well you recover from that session. Remember working out breaks your body down (Jacob’s post goes into some detail about this). The gains we get actually come from the recovery. So if you are someone who works out every single day without considering the pieces I list below and are not allowing your body to recover, consider a new thought: working out everyday actually may not be a benefit but a detriment to your overall well-being. CrossFit from the very beginning advocated a 3 day on, 1 day off workout regimen and still on the main site, there is a REST DAY programmed after every 3 days. Rest is so important and I feel as though our society currently doesn’t honor the role of rest. Rest is looked upon as a lack of motivation or a lack of initiative. “You can rest when you die” Well, frankly I do not see it that way and I believe that science is proving that despite the fact that you can rest when you die, the bigger truth is that you just might die sooner than you should if you do not rest. Rest is time for our spirit, mind & body to break free from the hustle & bustle of societal or self-inflicted pressures. Rest is the time your body gets to operate in the parasympathetic nervous system, the body’s “rest & digest” function. Jacqueline wrote a post awhile back on STRESS where she discusses this system along with the opposing one, the sympathetic nervous system or the “fight and flight” and why it is important to be operating in both. I won’t go into details of these 2 systems because Jacqueline’s post does a great job of it. But just consider the animal kingdom for a second. An animal is chased by a predator – the sympathetic system goes into action but notice what happens immediately when it finds safety – the parasympathetic system turns on. Unlike us, animals don’t worry and hold on to stress – they tap into the parasympathetic as soon as the stress is over. (I told you I can geek out way too much on this stuff).
Now, I already know there are some people who are feeling anxious just at the idea of not working out everyday or will be after reading some of the recovery pieces I list below. Some of these ideas might scare you or make you anxious because it means quieting our minds, but I will try to offer some thoughts/suggestions to ease this anxiety since it is this very anxiety that is causing many of the health problems we face today.
- Yes this is listed as #1 for a reason. There are soooooo many resources out there on sleep and why it is important.
- 7-9 hours of sleep. If you are not getting 7-9 hours of sleep, check yourself. Can you go to bed earlier to get that amount of sleep?
- If you really want to impress me, sleep more than 8 hours a night on a regular basis. Others may be impressed by the fact that you only sleep 5 hours, but the truth is you are hurting yourself in the long run. Don’t play the short game here. Figure out how to get more sleep. Turn off the TV, the computer, the smartphone.
- It isn’t just about the time but also the quality of sleep. What hurts your sleep quality?
- Blue light before bed – NOT GOOD – (ie – watching TV, looking at your iPhone or iPad, working at your computer) Consider some blue light blocking glasses to wear at night.
- Caffeine after 12:00pm
- Too much light in bedroom – even the tiniest bit of light in the room, including those emitted by electronic devices, can disrupt your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin, thereby disrupting your sleep cycle. Use a sleep mask or blackout drapes (this goes with the blue light mentioned above)
- Stress, worry, anxiety – see below for suggestions to reduce these.
- Suggestion: Download an app for your phone called “Sleep Cycle” and start tracking your sleep. Please make sure you put your phone on airplane mode when using this under your pillow – that’s an entirely different rabbit trail that I won’t go down.
- CrossFit’s Fitness in 100 Words (this is on our wall at the gym) starts off with “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.”
- We have ran Nutrition Challenges at least twice a year since we started, we have had discussions on the Paleo Diet multiple times. There is no magic diet out there. Eat REAL food period. If it comes in a box with 100 ingredients listed and has a shelf life until 2 years from now…it is not real food.
- A real food diet – rich in good fats, humanely & pasture raised animals, vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds – is the foundation your health is built on. It is not the workout you did today. Let me repeat it is not the workout you did today. If you are eating crap and then working out like a madman or madwoman – you are 100% missing the boat. Now if this is you, I am not saying this so you feel bad – society has not set you up to succeed. Big food industry spends billions…billions of dollars to market in a way to addict you to what they are call food – it is not food.
- Educate yourself – read books – this is why we have a library at the gym. I can’t make you change. You need to to listen, read about nutrition and allow the truths to set you free from the lies of the food industry. They are not interested in your health.
- Eating the right foods will allow your body to be in a state to recover faster. These real foods will not cause chronic inflammation, high blood sugar levels, high insulin levels unlike highly processed foods which steal your health.
3. STRESS REDUCTION: BREATHING – YOGA / MEDITATION – HEADSPACE
- Ok now here is where I imagine I might lose some people, so please stick with me.
- As I learn more about breathing, I realize this missing piece is crucial to our recovery and to our overall health. Consider that it is biologically impossible to have a panic attack when breathing slowly, particularly when the out-breath is longer than the in-breath. That is the power of our breath. And it’s FREE. It cost us nothing. Breathing will help us achieve a state of relaxation.
- Some people enjoy Yoga and some people don’t – if you don’t, don’t force yourself to do Yoga. You would be defeating yourself because Yoga would become a stress and it’s suppose to be a stress reliever. Personally, Yoga allows me a time to focus on my breathing. Many people consider only the physical practice/the positions but I use it as an opportunity to focus on my breathing. At that moment nothing else matters – not what I am going to eat that day or where I am going afterwards. Just my breathing. Maybe you could go for a walk in nature and be mindful of your breathing as you walk. Leave your phone in the car or …maybe just leave it in your pocket in case you feel you need it for safety. But keep it on silent or in airplane mode 😉
- During one of our previous challenges, Pete introduced box breathing as a weekly challenge. If you do not know where to start this could be a great place to start. Practice this daily for 5 minutes. 5 minutes would equate to 15 cycles – that’s it.
- Practice mindfulness. Don’t know how to start, don’t fret – use Headspace. It’s free for the first 10 days – if you don’t want to spend the money just keep repeating the first 10 days.
- An amazing side effect to practicing mindfulness or breathing is it will help your sleep quality!
- It will also make you a better person – your stress level will lower, you’ll feel less anxious and your relationships will improve.
- The mind & body are not separate but beautifully interconnected. Use the power of this interconnection to benefit you.
4. MOBILITY WORK /MOBILITYWOD.COM / ROMWOD
- We all know how important this work is and it ties into #3 because how we breath during our mobility work is important. If you have been in one of my classes – you may have experienced how to incorporate breathing into a stretch or foam rolling using concepts like contract & relax where you breath in, hold Your breath for a 5 count and then completely relax in order to get deeper into a stretch and repeat until we see change made.
- People who are serious about recovery do this work. What is the purpose of this work? It is to improve our mechanics. Why do we need to improve our mechanics? Because the root of most injuries is a lack of understanding the simple mechanics of a movement and repeating poor movement over and over and over again. Mobility work is simply tools to get your body moving towards its best position. Also note that those who know how & can put there body in the best position generally out perform those who do not.
- If you are too lazy to do this work after sitting at a desk all day, please don’t complain when you decide you want to come into the gym that day and PR your Fran time and tweak your back.
- Suggestion: Follow ROMWOD or MOBILITYWOD.COM
5. TREAT. YO. SELF
If you have some extra money in your pocket – here are a couple ideas of where you can invest in your health.
- MASSAGE – if you have nagging pain and your self-massage efforts with the foam roller or lacrosse ball aren’t cutting it – go see a professional. We have some cards in the office for Kelly who was very gracious to offer her services for free during the Open.
- FLOAT – I didn’t realize until recently that there was a place you can float. Thank you to Courtney Knox of Life is Grand Spa for bringing it to our area. What is floating? Floating is basically a giant Epsom salt bath. It is so dense that you float. You lay in a large pod that has about 10″ of water that is at body temperature so it doesn’t feel hot or cold. All lights are out (if you want) and you have complete silence. You are able to relax and fall into a meditative state which is wonderful. If you have never taken an Epsom salt bath – why not? It’s amazing, but floating is on a different level since there is copious amount of Epsom salt. You can read some Benefits of Floating here.
I know that this is a lot of information to digest and there are plenty of other ideas out there that I didn’t get a chance to discuss. So don’t try to digest it all at once. Here is my challenge to you – just start by adding one. Once you have incorporated it, visit another one and incorporate that one and so on. Then one day when I ask you “So what is your recovery regimen?” You’ll have an answer.