Okay, we all know how crazy you are into CrossFit that even in rest days, all you think about is how to perform on your next WOD or how to PR your squat, clean, etc. But you can’t just go all gung-ho every day, unless you want to get injured. Even when you drink recovery shakes, nothing beats taking a day or two in a week to recover. Rest days shouldn’t be spent doing nothing though. Here are 5 of the things you can do while your recover.
I’m sure you’ll agree that when you started CrossFit, massages became a necessity, and not a luxury. Getting a good massage on a rest day will benefit you not only because it feels great and reduces stress, but also because the pressure applied during massage clears the lactic acid and other toxins produced during a high intensity exercise. Another perk of massage is that it enhances flexibility and mobility because the muscle fibers are stretched during the massage, and all you have to do is just lie down and relax. A good massage eases muscle tightness, which is a pervasive problem for us CrossFitters. Finally, improved blood and oxygen circulation and reduction of pain (and consequently, injuries) make regular massages a must-do on recovery days. Ask for deep tissue massage, which applies more intense and focus pressure on tight muscles.
Recovery days don’t have to be boring. You can still engage in physical activities on your recovery day, but only exert 60-70% effort. Aerobic activities you can do are swimming, rowing, cycling, hiking, dancing, etc. There is really no limit on what kind of aerobic exercises you want to do, as long as you end the workout feeling “restored” and energized. It shouldn’t leave you dead tired. The aim of aerobic restoration is for the restoration of your system. Exerting tremendous effort will only leave you drained and too tired for your next WOD.
Mobility exercises are great complements to your workout to help relax the spine and joints. Exercises like the Brettzel target tight shoulders, hips, glutes, lower back and quadriceps. You can also do Self-Myofascial Release (SMR), which is done with tools like foam rollers and lacrosse balls. SMR is a great remedy for targeting damaged and painful areas that need to be relieved and softened. You can think of it as a form of self-massage.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga can serve as a form of mobility exercise, but it is worth allotting a separate section for yoga as a restorative practice because of its meditative aspect. Yoga is more than just stretching and flexibility. Serious yoga practice requires awareness, focus and a clear mind, which really improves your body positioning and balancewhen performing a WOD. In addition, the gentle and less-hurried pace of yoga balances out the intense nature of CrossFit. Attend a yoga class on a recovery day at least once a week, and see the difference.
Of course, you can’t discount a good night’s sleep. Whoever said that sleep is for the weak will eventually pay for those sleepless nights. Sleep is a basic necessity, most especially for those who put their bodies under tremendous wear and tear. The body releases Human Growth Hormone (HGH), released by the pituitary gland to facilitate muscle repair. Sufficient sleep also regulates the spike of cortisol, a hormone that the body releases when it’s under stress. High levels of cortisol can lead to diabetes, memory loss, and cognitive impairment. Nobody wants a chronic disease that can result to multiple organ failure, and it’s risky for Crossfitters to perform well with memory gap and cognitive problems. In fact, lack of sleep is dangerous because it damages the ability to concentrate well.
Sleep is not only beneficial – it is important. It is highly advisable for active people to get at least 9 hours of sleep everyday. On your rest days, try to get more than that. Power naps help in the rejuvenation of the weary body and mind, but nothing beats good, uninterrupted sleep at night.
As you can see, these activities are not just rewards to the body. They’re crucial in delivering optimal performance, and they prevent injury and fatigue. Needless to say, recovery days are just as important as the days you workout.
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