The Importance of Exercise Recovery

 

Exercise recovery is more than just resting after a workout. In this article I go over a few important practices that can help increase your body’s ability to recover from exercise.

Within the body there is a constant play of stability and mobility. Certain areas in our body function best when strong and stable and other parts of the body function best with more range of motion.

ACE Personal Trainer manual (5th Edition) has a helpful list locating key mobility and stability areas within the body’s kinetic chain: 

  • Glenohumeral (ball and socket joint where the top of the arm and the shoulder meet): mobility
  • Scapulothoracic (shoulder blade attachment to upper back): stability
  • Thoracic spine (upper back where ribs are): mobility
  • Lumber spine (lower back): stability
  • Hip (ball and socket joint where the top of the leg and side of pelvis meet): mobility
  • Knee: stability
  • Ankle: mobility
  • Foot: stability

If you have ever taken one of my classes, you may have heard me speak about these above areas within the body. I often talk about extending your thoracic spine while keeping the lumber spine long (by lengthening your tailbone). Often our upper back is tight and when we extend our spine we overcompensate and hyper flex our lumber spine, which could lead to chronic pain and/or injury in the low back.

We become injured and/or develop chronic pain when one of the areas in the kinetic chain functions incorrectly. Another example: when we have tight hip flexors (muscles that attach pelvis and top of legs) decreasing our hip mobility, our knees, which should be stable, overcompensate and become torqued incorrectly. Over time this can cause disfunction and pain at the knee joint.

When we exercise, especially repetitive movements like cycling, walking, and running, areas that should be mobile can tighten while those movements can neglect to strengthen areas that should be stable.

Six steps of exercise recovery:

  1. Step one: we need to have a strength program that creates balance and correct alignment in our body so we can move optimally. Each participant may have different needs depending on their unique habitual movement patterns. A certified personal trainer can assess and create a functional strength program for clients.
  2. Step two: stretch tight areas of the body. We need to lengthen our shortened, over worked muscles so our joints have the correct range of motion so our joints that need to be more stable don’t become compromised.  Gentle yoga or yin yoga are good therapeutic choices for prolonged stretching. Pilates reformer and Pilates mat exercises often have both strengthening and lengthening movements that help as well.
  3. Step three: loosen overactive sore or painful areas in the muscle that may have “knots” or “trigger points” by foam rolling or using massage balls.
  4. Step four: de-stress by practicing relaxation techniques, like walking in nature, reading, mediation, prayer, yoga, or lighter exercise on recovery days. I find Pilates Fit and Slow Flow classes to be perfect for de-stressing.
  5. Step five: eat for recovery. Healthy foods fuel the body when active and also when recovering after exercise.
  6. Step six: get enough sleep. Studies are showing that having a bedtime routine is crucial to getting a good night sleep. Making sure we prioritize sleeping for an appropriate number of hours helps with exercise recovery.

Each week I will explore these recovery steps in more detail. Please sign up to my mailing list so you don’t miss out!

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