So logically I figured that for my first real blog post I would start at the end!
Stretching and recovery is as important if not more important than your actual training sessions. Now while I admit that does sound pretty extreme, I am going to explain why and what I do during stretching and recovery sessions.
Over the past 4 years I have changed the way that I workout, going from a primarily cardio endurance based workout, to a combination of HIIT training and strength programs. When I first began focusing more on strength I really didn’t appreciate the need for stretching and the wonders of foam rolling, I was really dismissive of them in fact. All I wanted was to increase my strength, muscle definition and work those glutes. I thought that stretching would mean I would loose all the hard work I had just done!
Looking back now I so wished that I had someone tell me NO stop, rolling and stretching are KEY for strength development.
When we are working our muscles we are actually causing them to slightly tear and the recuperation we undertake ensures the healthy recovery of our muscles. Now yes that sounds quite far fetched, but if you look back to how you feel after working a muscle group, they feel sore, worked and have been stretched under tension If you think of that and apply it to some blue tac (go with me here!!) and you try to stretch a hard piece blue-tac, it splinters around the edges and its range is reduced. That is basically what we are doing by not taking care of our muscles and giving the opportunity to stretch and massage them.
Now I usually will try to spend 15-30 minutes after a weight session stretching and rolling out my muscles. I admit however I can be rather naughty and skip this because you get to the end and just want out but commit to it and you will really see the results! Over the past 2 months I decided that my main focus was going to be on recovery, because I have had a few recurring niggling injuries. Over the past few weeks I have noticed a massive improvement with my form, I have increased range of movement, being able to squat that bit lower and being able to keep my shoulders back for longer.
I always begin my cool down by foam rolling, this way you can work your muscles in preparation for a good stretch. Most gyms will have one and it is personal preference what sort you use, I have my own at home as well, which I got from Amazon To be honest when it comes to rolling, I don’t really know how you could be considered to do it wrong, I often listen to my body and if I feel a part of me that is in a bit more pain, I will work that area harder trying to massage out the tension. Now personally I suffer from really tight hamstrings, quads and Iliotibial band (ITB – the muscle bad that runs from your hip down the outside of your leg to your knee joint), so I know I have to work these areas the most. I use my body weight to determine the amount of pressure that I apply.
Benefits of rolling:
- Massages your sore muscles – depending on the type of roller used with depend on the massage pattern but all applied rolling pressure helps to eliviate built up tensions
- Increases blood flow to muscles – due to the pressure applied it increases the blood flow to the area at work, which helps the bodies natural repair process AND…
- Banishes Cellulite – the increased blood flow also helps to break down the toxins in the area and get rid of that pesky cellulite – because lets be real we all have some!!
I have come to really enjoy my cool down and with the pressure of work mounting up I just take myself to the matts and close myself off from the world, put my headphones on and blast out the Adele (my guilty pressure)!
What’s your guys recovery process?
Lots of flexinnn love