How to rest properly after training
When it comes to training effectively, there is no shortage of advice out there to help you to get the most out of your routine, and from what to eat to how to prepare for a big event, it has never been easier to find out what you need to know – whether that’s through a quick search online, or via a chat with your personal trainer.
One topic that often flies beneath the radar, however, is rest. It’s not just about taking a day or two off here and there, but about maximising your downtime to ensure you are in top condition for your next session – and often, there is more to it than simply sitting on the sofa with a glass of champagne, or – our favourite – checking into a luxury spa for a day or unadulterated pampering.
Resting is just as important as the actual training – if not, more so. If you don’t give your body time to recuperate, your brain won’t be able to reset and transfer new input from short-term memory into the long-term sites. If you cognitive skills aren’t functioning well, then your muscles won’t be able to heal from the stress you put them under – and that certainly won’t do you any favours in the longrun.
Instead of moving from one training to the next without giving a second thought to resting in between, take a look at these tips to help your body perform at its peak levels.
Making rest a habit
There’s a reason why professional athletes have annual seasons for their sports. Rest is crucial, both short-term and long-term, for ensuring they are continually able to perform.
Whether you’re a professional athlete, a regular gym goer or an occasional indulger in the odd park run, immediate, short-term recovery is a must. This should be built into cool-downs, but also extend to everything you do after a workout.
How you rest will determine how effectively your body repairs itself, builds strength, repairs body tissue, and replenishes your energy stores – so if you’re not making time for it yet, then you’re truly missing a trick.
Just as you train your body to make exercise and physical activity a regular daily habit, you can also teach it to utilize its resting state optimally for healing and recovery. These 7 easy to incorporate habits will get your body functioning better than ever.
1. Stay hydrated
An intensive training session means losing a lot of fluids through sweat and exertion, and these need to be replenished swiftly with a consistent water intake afterwards. This will ensure that the body’s processes can continue to work to heal and repair anything going on underneath the surface.
2. Stretch out
Stretching before training is important since you are going to be working your muscles. Think of them like a rubber band or a balloon; you slowly stretch them into shape ahead of time, they will go further, but if you try to yank them too far, too fast without a stretch, it’s possible that they will snap. This snap doesn’t always happen in ways you’d notice right away, but you will feel it later. Stretching after training is a good way to improve circulation, too. You can even borrow some tricks from this in-depth article on dynamic stretching for runners and see how your body benefits.
3. Ice is your friend
There’s a reason that ice baths are often used by athletes after baseball and football games. Ice reduces inflammation, improves circulation, and can remove toxins from your body. You don’t have to go whole hog and immerse yourself in the bathtub, though. Strategic placement of ice packs on overused muscles can help, too.
4. Be careful what you hear, see, and say
Your mind is an incredible muscle that must be rested, too. When you are done training, avoid listening to energy-draining music, news, or talk. Don’t read anything that may bring you down. Find inspirational apps and videos, listen to music that brings your mood up – but not the same music you’d work out with – and stay motivated.
5. Eat healthy
There are some athletes out there who assume that just because they work off hundreds of calories a day, they can eat whatever they want. The truth is that your body is fuelled by what you put in it and that junk food and grease is slowly clogging the works. It will catch up with them eventually.
Even when you have had an incredible training session, don’t mess up the hard work by splurging on junk food. Keep your body fuelled efficiently by sticking to clean eating.
6. Schedule a massage regularly
It’s not frivolous – it’s necessary. Massages and physical therapy are great ways to work out toxins in your body, relax your muscles and give them special treatment so they continue to perform for you, and give you some much-needed down time, both physically and mentally. Many athletes recommend a once-a-week massage session for at least half an hour.
7. Get a good night’s sleep
After a strenuous workout, your brain is likely ready to rest and recover naturally. When you fight that normal rhythm, you are training your body to miss out on something it needs physiologically. Find a mattress that supports your sleeping habits and your spine, put your phone away at least two hours before you go to sleep and avoid television, and schedule in 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
Never underestimate the power of resting
No matter how many hours you put into your daily training, you must ensure that you make time for resting, too. Your body needs it, your brain needs it, and if you want to keep performing at peak levels, you don’t have a choice but to make time to rest.
With just a few simple adjustments to your daily habits, plus a great mattress and the right mindset, you can easily make the time you spend just as productive as the time you spend training.