If you’re like most people this time of year, you made resolutions that centered around your fitness. From working out more, to losing weight, giving yourself more time to focus on your health and everything in between, fitness-focused goal-making naturally spikes this time of year. But in order to really make your hard work stick and achieve your goals requires more than just hours in the gym.
Did you know a critical piece of a successful fitness routine is rest? To some it may seem like a four-letter word, but science backs it up as one of the most important things you can do for yourself, physically and psychologically. But that’s just the beginning. Rest and recovery can mean a lot of things. Below we break down the best ways to rest, healthy options for your recovery days and how Woodside offers the resources and spaces to round out your fitness program.
We interviewed Woodside Massage Therapist Sydnie Kistler and Woodside Personal Training Manager Simon Stanberg in order to gather advice for making the most of your recovery days.
Why is rest so important?
Simon: With any exercise program for any goal, whether it be to lose weight or build muscle, rest gives the body a chance to rebuild. When you exercise, the body uses up energy and puts stress on your bones, muscles and nerves. In order for all these essentials to regenerate and allow you to maximize your time working out, sufficient recovery is absolutely necessary. A lack of rest can result in poor performance, tiredness and the body’s ability to create human growth hormone (HGH). HGH is responsible for growth, body composition, cell repair and metabolism. It also boosts muscle growth, strength and exercise performance, while helping you recover from injury and disease. It’s easy to see why giving your body the best chance to continue producing this hormone is so valuable.
Sydnie: Most people consider rest (in the form of massage, for example) as a luxury that makes a good birthday present or way to unwind from a stressful time in life. Although that’s true, it’s so much more than that. When there is work, stress and tension on the body then there must be recovery and rest. It is vital – you can’t pour from an empty cup for long.
In your experience what are some of the things a proper rest/recovery day should include to maximize the time off from exercising? (i.e. deep tissue or sports massage, taking advantage of the saunas, meditation? etc.)
Simon: My favorite way to recover is to make sure I am refueling through food and hydration.
If my muscles are sore, I will incorporate the cold plunge and hot tub downstairs at Woodside, alternating between the two for several minutes. If I have been exercising using a continuous movement a lot such as running, I will get a sports massage.
Sydnie: There are many ways to enjoy the benefits of massage, and each form offers something different for your body, mind and soul. For example, if you’re used to working out in a way that uses a lot of repetitive motions and your body feels tight, sore and generally tired, a sports massage might be best suited for you. Sports massage involves alternating between stretching, a mix of techniques which involve kneading, circular movements, deep pressure and vibration. It helps to improve range of motion and muscle flexibility, resulting in improved power and performance, shortened recovery time between workouts and maximizes the supply of nutrients and oxygen in the body through increased blood flow. To really enhance the benefits of your massage, I always recommend taking advantage of our cold plunge (for inflamed muscles) and hot tub (for sore tight muscles).
What are the physical benefits seen from taking advantage of the things you list above?
Simon: Refueling properly is key after any physical exercise and is essential to recovery. It replaces the energy stores you have used during your workout and helps to repair muscle tissue and aid in the regrowth process. I also advise my clients to use the cold plunge to reduce inflammation in your muscles and connective tissue that occurred as a result of your workout to prevent soreness.
Sydnie: Like anything in life there must be balance, and the same goes for your workouts and self-care routine. Recovery and rest are so important. The reason I got into massage therapy is because I truly find it to be the best holistic source of recovery. As a child, I suffered from scoliosis. At its worst, my spine measured at a 65-degree curvature, and had to undergo spinal fusion surgery when I was 13 years old. The surgery left me with two titanium rods and 12 screws throughout my thoracic spine. I’m no stranger to pain and discomfort, and for me massage has been a key element of my recovery. I like it because it’s much healthier, safer and sustainable than other forms of pain relief.
What should a proper exercise – rest – exercise – rest – exercise routine look like?
Simon: It depends on a lot of factors including age, gender and goals. However, I like to think of it this way: If you are walking into the gym for your workout and you feel like you can’t put at least 75% effort into your program, your body is probably lacking energy and is still under stress. In these cases, you’re not going to get the optimal performance/results you are looking for. This is usually a great indicator of not getting enough scheduled rest in order for your body to properly recover.
Sydnie: Recovering with massage especially after something that really pushes your body to the extreme, like a marathon, to enhance recovery is important, but maintenance is key. To begin seeing the benefits of proper rest and recovery you have to maintain a regular massage practice – just like learning new workouts, massage creates muscle memory. After about a month without it, your muscles begin to contract back to their original, tight, achy form. With regular exercise and massage, you will begin to see how much more and how much quicker your body is able to recover.
To take advantage of the ways The Spa at Woodside can aid in your rest and recovery, call the Spa at 913.831.0043 to book a service, view the full menu on The Spa page or head down to the indoor pools and saunas on the lower level of the Main Clubhouse – open seven days a week.