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Creative Strategies for Rest and Recovery after working out

Recovery from a tough workout is all about getting the right combination of rest and movement to circulate blood, but not so much movement that you are introducing a new challenge to the body. Here are a couple of creative ways to do this:

1. Hot Cold Therapy

All the rage among professional athletes, hot-cold contrast therapy is a method for rapidly flushing blood through the body. This is because immersion in cold water removes blood quickly from the limbs (and carries waste products from training away along with it) and immersion in warm water brings new blood rushing back in. This accelerates the circulation of blood through the body. The problem? Most people have neither the means to access hot/cold baths nor the desire and commitment to do so. Putting your entire body in a cold bath requires a level of mental toughness that many just don’t possess. Fortunately, there is a way to get the benefit of hot-cold contrast treatments for specific parts of the body. You just need a good old-fashioned hot water bottle and two wet washcloths.

1. Put the washcloths in the freezer until they are frozen. It is best to hang them on the door of your freezer so it freezes mostly flat and is easy to remove from the freezer and manipulate.
2. Once the cloths are frozen, put hot water in the hot water bottle
3. Place the frozen cloth on or around your desired area of treatment for five to eight minutes
4. Put the used frozen cloth back in the freezer and put the hot water bottle on your body part for five to eight minutes.
5. Place the second frozen cloth on or around your desired area of treatment for five to eight minutes.
6. Repeat step 4 and keep switching the cloths back and forth for as many cycles as you like.

 


2. Muscle Cream Therapy

 

Healing and recovery come from circulation. This means we want more blood moving through the tissues. It also means that the tingling or cold sensation that comes from muscle creams like Ben-Gay, Bio-Freeze or Icy-Hot do little to nothing to actually improve recovery. Rather, in some cases these creams do little more than generate an unpleasant smell and expose your body to chemicals through your skin. Instead, try the following essential oils:

• Black Pepper – soothes muscular aches and pains after exertion
• Clove Bud – provides muscular relief and has analgesic and antibacterial properties
• Peppermint – improves circulation and helps with muscular pain and headaches
• Ginger – promotes circulation and helps with muscular and arthritis pain
• Rosemary – helps with tired muscles and arthritis as well as mental focus
• Thyme – helps the immune, respiratory and circulatory systems

It can be hard to know the right amounts of any individual oil to use and many oils are far more effective when used in targeted blends. If you want to try individual oils, it is best to consult with a certified aromatherapist, which you can find through the National Association for Holistic Therapy website.

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