When I have my mind set on something, I become super focused and I can tend to overdo it. Most recently, I’ve been fixated on the back of my body, spending time working on my glutes and posture. My shoulders rounding forward have been something I’ve been aware and hyper-conscious of for a few years—I was even referred to physical therapy for it.
I tend to carry stress and tension in between my shoulder blades; it’s become a feeling I’ve grown accustomed to and have learned to deal with it over time. Add to that the extra stress of the new exercises I was introducing to my workouts, it’s safe to say I was pretty uncomfortable. Fast forward to my Friday afternoon session with 9 year old Megan: I moved quickly to dodge out of her way and felt a pop and some serious pain go through the back of my right shoulder. Thoughts started racing through my head. “How am I going to teach class tomorrow?” “What if I tore something in my rotator cuff?” “Did I really just injure myself playing with a little girl?” It was at that point that I knew I had to back off what I was doing and spend some more time recovering from my workouts.
The Importance of Rest and Recovery
Recovery and rest days are important. You can’t continue to challenge your body, push it to it’s absolute limits, and expect it to hold up and not break down if you don’t take some time off. Your muscles need time to repair themselves after lifting heavy weights, introducing new exercises, or doing intense cardio. A lot of people have even said they notice the most muscle gains on their rest days.
Taking a rest day doesn’t mean doing absolutely nothing and sitting on the couch binge watching Netflix all day—but honestly, sometimes that may be what your body needs, too. Try these four rest and recovery day activities the next time you take a day off from the gym.
1. Go for a walk or an easy hike
Get outside! Fitness doesn’t always have to take place in the gym. Check out the local downtown scene or nearby hiking trails and spend time exploring.
2. Rent a bike and pedal the nearest bike path
Bike paths tend to be pretty flat. Take your time, enjoy the scenery, and maybe make some new friends along the way.
3. Foam roll
My favorite areas to roll out are my quads, inner and outer thighs, upper back, and lats. If you come across some spots that feel extra sore, try to rest on or around them for about 20 seconds before you resume rolling again.
4. Find a gentle yoga class
Check out your nearest studio or pull up a class on YouTube, try searching “gentle yoga.” A couple of my favorite instructor channels are YogaTX with Cole Chance or Yoga with Adriene. Doing yoga for 20-30 minutes twice a week can not only benefit your body, but your mind as well.