Working Out Isn't Enough— Recovery is King
Updated: Feb 26, 2020
Are you taking your recovery as seriously as your training? If not, maybe it's time to rethink the way you treat yourself
Does your body give you the not-so-friendly-reminder, conveyed through aches and pains, that you are getting old and recovery is only getting harder? Wouldn’t it be nice if working out just undid all the damage we cause it by sitting all day? The problem, working out isn’t enough anymore.
In fact, a 2013 Doug Dupont Report found that sedentary workers who exercise regularly were at just as high risk for health issues concerning sitting as those who didn’t exercise.
With this uninvited realization it is imperative we learn everything we can about functional based movement. On our health journey, we should mobilize our joints through various stretches, distraction methods, and SMR (self myofascial release— a fancy wave to say you massage yourself). Once we learn these basic principles, we will find we can mobilize and aid our body’s recovery anytime, anywhere.
"Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness." Edward Stanley (1826-1893)
While there are plenty of massage tools, programs to buy, or coaches to tell you how to properly recover, the #1 MOST EFFECTIVE tool for recovery you have in your toolbox is WALKING, followed by STAYING HYDRATED. A recent study in 2015 found that walking groups, “...could be a promising intervention as an adjunct to other healthcare or as a proactive health-promoting activity.”
Try to keep a 4:1 ratio of working out to recovery. So if you plan to commit 6 hours a week to working out hard, you better find the time for 1.5 hours of recovery. This recovery time can be broken up in increments of 5-10 minutes through the week. Taking a bathroom break? Take a quick 2 minutes to release your lower back by reaching for your toes or massage out your neck.
As Edward Stanley said, "Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness." Don’t fall into the later category, take the time now to invest in your future health. We must do our very best to prioritize our body’s natural mechanics. We not only owe this to ourselves but to our family as well. Health isn’t a 6-pack of abs and bulging biceps anymore, it’s being able to bend over and pick up your grandchild. Its running aside, pushing little Johnny along while he learns to ride his bike without training wheels.
Walk more and walk often (for every hour sitting, walk at minimum 5 minutes).
Stay properly hydrated
Stick with a 4:1 training to recovery ratio
If you are interested, below are 3 mobility tools I personally own and use daily. All these mobility tools help to relieve tight muscles and tissue restrictions but, as you will see, each mobility tool doesn’t solve all the tissue dysfunction and mobility needs of a person.
Mobility Pack, 13” Foam Roller + ball: The foam roller has been a go to of mine long before I learned about SMR or its many benefits. Truthfully, I didn’t even know what I was doing while rolling on it. I just jumped on the roller and ball from time-to-time and mashed my muscles. Did it help? Sure. Could I have had a better approach, absolutely. Reminder that breathing is key when using these tools. Inhale, then release your breath as you massage your muscles. My number one complaint about this mobility tool is the trouble I have in applying controlled pressure. Gravity does the work for you which is nice, but all 230 pounds of me doesn’t rest softly on my hamstring or glute— it downright hurts.
Theracane: The theracane is one of the highest selling mobility tools in the world, along with its many knock-offs. At my last glance it had over 6,000 comments/reviews on Amazon. This mobility tool is perfect for someone older who doesn’t have full functionality of their shoulders, however it is cumbersome and hard to travel with. If you are an athlete who travels to compete, this will be hard to carry on your flight. If you work in an office setting, this may be the tool to help release those tight neck and shoulder muscle restrictions you’ve created from looking down at a computer all day.
Massage Bar 20”: There are literally 20+ different styles to choose from when it comes to mobility bars or “sticks” as some call them. I love using this on my neck and the plantar portion (bottom) of my feet (Eeekkk— gross, I know). This is a great tool for the places you can reach but, if you want to massage your back or lats, this tool falls short.
“Taking on a mobility practice is one of the best things that you can do for your body.” -Dr. Kelly Starrett
While all these mobility tools are different in both design and application, they all serve the same basic principals: they aim to add flexibility, increase oxygenation to the applied muscles, and stimulate active muscle recovery.
The time to start taking recovery seriously was yesterday, so what are you waiting for? There is no way to fight mother nature, if you want to live a long, healthy, and pain free life— you must treat recovery with the same importance of training.