Recovery! Exercise is a form of stress to the body. We challenge the body so that it can repair, rebuild and become stronger. Without proper rest, exercise is just what I said, STRESSFUL. Here are some of my favorite recovery techniques.
1. Coconut Oil Massage. You can use any kind of oil or lotion that you prefer. There is no special technique, just rub it in and tame those sore spots. I especially like using it on my feet and hands. During the winter, placing fuzzy socks over your feet afterwards is bliss! This is great before bed, to let the oil/lotion soak in and moisturize your skin. Watch my massage video.
2. Heating Pad. Most people only think of this one after they are in pain and seeking relief. I like to use it as prevention. If I did a tough workout and suspect shoulder tension or low back stiffness in the morning, I will use the heating pad for 20 minutes before going to sleep. This will increase blood flow and circulation so that the muscles can more easily make repairs.
3. Foam Roller. I like to use this before bed also, because when you do myofascial release you are essentially relaxing the muscles, so why not get double benefit and sleep better too? You should have a healthcare professional show you proper technique with the foam roller. If you already have one, it's time to pull it out of the closet and get relaxed before you rest!
4. Hydration. Warm herbal tea in the winter or coconut water in the summer. These are 2 of my favorite options that are also a nice reward for a tough workout. Soothe your throat and digestive tract also from all that heavy breathing!
5. Hot bath or shower. This may be obvious, after getting sweaty. Particularly the hot bath or hot tub often get forgotten. Submersing yourself in warm water can be very soothing for over-worked muscles. Some people like to use epsom salt. I sometimes put coconut oil in the tub, but be careful because it is slippery!
Remember to take care of your body while you are busy "taking care of your body". Exercise is great, but you will get more of the benefits when you recover more properly. Avoid injury, feel better and treat yourself! These recovery methods are also beneficial to lower stress, improve your mood and help you sleep better. Try a routine before bed and see how it changes your morning!