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Self Love - Rest & Recovery

Self Love - Rest & Recovery

By Shane Sauer

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about love.  It’s important to remember that we are most able to share love when we take the time care for ourselves first.  When we’re stressed out and tired, we often say things we don’t mean and have less energy to show our affection.  This type of statement is almost clichéd today, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

Two of most important things to consider are sleep and nutrition. Sleep is a huge topic these days and we’re only beginning to understand how important it is.  Additionally, if you want your body to recover from the stresses you apply to it, you better give it the nutritional resources it needs.  These are huge topics though, so let’s consider some small practices you could add into your life to take care of yourself.

One of the most popular relaxation methods is meditation.  It has numerous scientifically backed benefits.  As a yoga instructor, this is something I recommend to many of my students.  However, as a personal trainer, I realize that there are many people who require a more “active” form of recovery.  Since many of us are so wound up, it can be incredibly difficult to just sit and meditate.  In these situations, here are some things I recommend:

  1. Yoga – For active people, this is a great way to slow down while still moving.  If you’re looking to this for recovery, avoid the strenuous vinyasa style classes, but it doesn’t mean you have to take a restorative class (few postures with many props and supports) either.
  2. Breathing – Working on deep breathing can give you something to do while you slow down and relax.  Deep breathing directly stimulates our parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system.   It can also give endurance athletes a big boost in their stamina if properly trained.
  3. Saunas or Epsom Salt Baths – These practices can be very rejuvenating. Although not as active as the two above, they are brief and you can often distract yourself with a book or music.
  4. Contrast Showers – This is going between hot and cold water in the shower.  This does not take much time and will certainly keep you mentally engaged (if you can handle it).
  5. PMR & Autogenics – Progressive muscle relaxation and autogenics are training series that teach you how to fully control muscle relaxation and other parasympathetic body responses.

While these are just a few of the practices that can help you reduce stress and relax, I want to bring special attention to PMR & Autogenics. For highly active people, particularly those who are already involved in physical training routines, these provide a structured program of relaxation.  This might make recovery a much more tolerable concept as you will actually have to work on them.  Not to mention the muscle control gained from these systems can have huge benefits on your workouts and fitness goals.  The ability to create and release tension is key in athletic endeavors.

There you have it, a number of options to take care of yourself.  Allowing you to be at your best for all of your loved ones who deserve it.