Is your body sour from training or stress? Sometimes we just need a reminder on how to take care of our body. Here are a few tips on how and why to take care of your body after intense periods of training or stress. We’re releasing recovery guide 1.0, next week we will publish recovery guide 2.0 which will include information and tips on the subject alternative medicine. Sleep. Numerous scientific analysis prove that the amount and quality of your sleep clearly affects development and learning abilities. Sleep is by far the most important part in restitution and enables you to both improve and develop your body physically as well as mentally. Your body uses most of the night (except when you are in REM sleep) to heal damage done to your cells and tissues when you are awake and more metabolically active. At the start of the night and during slow wave sleep, your body also releases growth hormone, so most amount of reward for your hard work in the gym happens during the night.
To increase your chances of the best possible sleep, try this:
- Light: Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Can’t see your hand in front of your face? Perfect.
- Noise: A minimum amount of noise, consider wearing earplugs if you are a light sleeper.
- Temperature: Keep your room cool for optimal sleep. How cool? 65 degrees Fahrenheit is the magic number (18 degrees Celsius).
- Comfort: Replace an old tired or worn mattress. That goes for your pillows too.
- Stimulants: Ditch the coffee and alcohol after midday. You may feel that a vino before bed relaxes you but it inhibits your ability to access the deeper phases of sleep.
Are you struggling to relax before going to sleep? Here are a few tips that might help:
- Zone Out: Unplug from work and social media to allow yourself to truly unwind.
- Blue Light: The light from our digital devices inhibits our sleep hormone “melatonin”. You can counteract this by wearing blue-blocking glasses, installing f.lux on your devices or turning them off 2 hours before sleep.
- Supplements: Magnesium is one of the most powerful relaxation minerals around and can really help with sleep. Try Epsom salt baths or capsules.
- Exercise: Avoid vigorous exercise 2-3 hours before sleep as this can elevate our stress hormone “cortisol” making us feel tired by wired at bedtime.
Napping is underestimated. More than 85% of mammalian species are polyphasic sleepers, meaning that they sleep for short periods throughout the day. Humans are part of the minority of monophasic sleepers, meaning that our days are divided into two distinct periods, one for sleep and one for wakefulness. It is not clear that this is the natural sleep pattern of humans. Per the American National Sleep foundation, a short nap of 20-30 minutes provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep. Napping has psychological benefits; a nap can be pleasant luxury, it can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.
Drink enough water. Better recovery could be just a glass (or two, or three…) away. Exercising while dehydrated can cause greater damage to muscles and reduce the body’s ability to repair itself. Before reaching for Gatorade, however, know that H20 is often enough for many individuals looking to replenish fluids.
Make foam rolling your friend. Much of the soreness that goes along with exercise occurs when our muscles and fascia—connective tissue running throughout the body—become knotted. Rolling out muscles with foam or semi-rigid rollers—two forms of self-myofascial release—can help remove those knots and prevent muscle imbalances from forming. While not exactly noted for its comfort, the benefits are worth it.
Get a massage. Recovery backrubs, anyone? Like foam rolling, massage helps break up scar tissue and reduce stiffness associated with muscle repair. Additional testing has shown an immediate increase and expedited recovery periods for muscle performance, also massage has been shown to temporarily reduce blood pressure and heart rate and as a bonus also release stress and pain. And remember, scented candles and relaxing tunes are optional but also very effective for relaxation.
Taking a bath. The Romans did it and the ancient Greek, using a bath to relax and recover goes way back and it is also widely used in many different cultures. Except the feeling of relaxation and well-being some other benefits are proved such as reduce the level of stress and anxiety in the body. Stretching and moving in water has been shown to be low impact on the joints, muscles and bones, and with that said, it is perfect for rehabilitation after surgery or injury. Warm baths will improve your blood circulation and it will allow you to breathe deeper and slower, particularly when taking in steam. It can also relieve the symptoms of cold and flu.
Alternatively, warm water bathing can increase levels of serotonin, which is the chemical produced by the brain associated with happiness and well-being. Hot water opens our pores and causes us to sweat, which is the body’s natural way of cleansing itself. Similarly, cold water can tighten our skin and reduce sweating and open pores, whilst still providing optimal hydration.
Conclusion: spa weekend is a perfect investment for your body!