What’s in my “toolbox?” A good stretch

You’ve been hitting the gym at least 4x a week.  Perhaps the pavement, treadmill, or track is where you work out your frustrations as well as your body.  Whether you fight the battle of the bulge doing thisstrong pull up

or thisexcuses dont run,or combination thereof, you probably are in need of some of this.dancer pose

RECOVERY–A tale of two strategies

Actually, recovery is a plethora of strategies.  Strength training usually means you are taking a day or two off between workouts.  Your muscles must recover and rest to perform.  You can see my previous post “If this isn’t part of your workout routine, you may be wasting your time.”  It is dated June 13, 2013 under FITNESS.

If you are a runner, there is debate and dissent regarding recovery runs.  The ideology here is to enhance and utilize muscles not normally used if rested and refreshed, then going for a run.  If you are training for distance, this actually makes sense; as you will need the help of ancillary muscles to support your efforts.

As I have stated in previous posts, for me, recovery is just that–a day to recover.  And nothing recovers like rest.  That being said, I have found my body does not always cooperate.  It may have different ideas.

NO REST FOR THE WEARY

You are lying in bed–about to drift into a well-deserved sleep.  You may get there, or maybe just to the outer limits.  You are then wrenched from your slumber by a foot or leg unwilling to cooperate.  Perhaps it’s a cramp in your instep or toes.  Maybe your legs are a little tingly or just plain restless.  Your arms could be starting their own protest.  What’s going on?

Proper hydration may be an issue.  Beyond this however, your body may be saying “if you want rest, give me some.”  The best way to do this is by including a day or two of stretching.  No it doesn’t mean it has to take the same amount of time as your normal workout.  But it does mean more than 5-10 minutes.

I know what you are thinking, because I’ve been there.  You include a minute or two, or even five of post workout stretching–but it’s usually after an hour or more exercise.  Your body is basically saying “What the hell?  I do all this for you–and that’s all I get? And now you want to go to sleep? Think again.”  Indeed you should.

Whether you are an avid runner, or your idea of working out includes anything but, stretching tight muscles is rest for your body.  A few minutes after the fact is great, but may not be sufficient.

While I enjoy yoga (actually hot yoga), I realize a 60-70 minute practice is not for everyone.  If you are just getting started, a more realistic approach may be to start with a cardio warm-up.  A few jumping jacks, or even a slow jog in place can be where you begin.  Afterwards, with legs hip distance apart, roll your torso downward, reaching for your toes.  Bend your knees enough as to place your hands on the floor.  Alternate bending and straightening your knees.  Roll upward slowly when finished, vertebra by vertebra.

Another favorite of mine is to stand with your feet hip distance apart.  Keeping your legs straight as possible, roll your torso down, reaching for your right leg with both hands.  Keep right leg straight, head and torso reaching for right foot. (You need not be able to touch your foot)  Bend left knee, while maintaining your position over straightened right leg.  Roll up slowly.  Repeat process on left side, this time keeping left leg straight, then bend right knee.

If you have hip or knee issues, consult your medical professional for guidance.

If you’re interested in a yoga based stretch routine, check out “Yogalates” on You-Tube.  The entire workout is an hour and a half.  However, it is divided into 4 segments, starting with a beginner section.  If you are just getting started, this might be for you.  Pace is slow and articulate.  Another pick is “60 minute Yin Yoga for Spine.”  This is one in a series listed under http://www.eckhartyoga.com.  Again, the operative word for both is “slow.”  If you are an advanced yogi, or looking for something more up tempo, these may not be your routines of choice.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If your body is keeping you up at night, then it is reacting to your activity–even if it is in the name of healthier living.  Giving it proper hydration and nutrition as well as medical attention is key.  Equally so, is counterbalancing your intense routines with a day of lengthening tight muscles.  Keep in mind, sleep deprivation can come with its own issues–potential weight gain, to name one.

But that’s another issue, for another day.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

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