Three Types of Recovery--You Need All Three!

In my last post, I talked about building muscle in three easy steps. Those steps included: diet, heavy weights, and rest. I specifically outlined the amount of protein needed on a daily basis in order to efficiently build muscle. Today, I want to get more specific about rest.

When coaches and trainers talk about recovery, they usually mean a day (or longer) without working out. But that time off might include other activities. For example, on my day "off" from leading group exercise classes, I always walk the dogs, foam roll, stretch, vacuum, weed the garden, etc. The dog-walking takes at least an hour and half per day. My point is that although I am not "exercising" per se, I am active. Low intensity activities like house cleaning, gardening, walking, and stretching are all excellent forms of recovery as they get the blood flowing but do not exhaust. None of these activities will make you sore, or prevent the healing needed during your recovery time. A yoga practice can and should happen on a daily basis and can help muscles recover from more strenuous activity.

Active recovery is the first kind that you need: recovery time that includes other forms of moving and stretching.

The second form of recovery is relaxation. This might include your gentle yoga practice. It might also look like meditation or prayer. You could include yoga nidra in this category. Sitting on the porch in your rocking chair reading a novel or lazing around in your hammock looking at the clouds. Watching a relaxing movie or listening to music. Receiving a massage. Relaxation is anything that calms your body and your mind. It is refreshing to the spirit. And because we are whole human beings, whose minds and bodies are ONE, we need not just PHYSICAL rest, but also holistic relaxation. The stress of working hard needs to be followed by periods of recovery, including mental, emotional, and spiritual recovery. This is where relaxation comes in.

And this leads us to the third kind of recovery: physical rest. In other words, sleep. And last is definitely NOT least in this case. Sleep is absolutely crucial for recovery. Sleep is healing in ways that no one fully understands yet. But we know that if we do not get the high-quality sleep that our bodies AND minds need, we will suffer. Lack of adequate sleep causes myriad issues, both physical and mental. Eight hours per night is considered the minimum. Because we are all individuals, you might need more or possibly slightly less. Under seven hours is rarely adequate for anyone, though. And naps do count, so if you have trouble sleeping a full eight hours at night, make it up during the day with a nap. (Highly recommended!!!)

If you are trying to build muscle, become stronger, get more fit, lose weight, or make any kind of strides forward in your life, you MUST take recovery into consideration. Give your body, mind, and spirit time to heal and you will find you can achieve more than before.