I don’t know about you, but my muscles are FEELIN’ it during our monthly Challenges! Working out day after day can leave us sore and fatigued, and muscle recovery plays a key role in helping us renew and rejuvenate so we can LEVEL UP every day! While consistent exercise is crucial for our mental and physical health, it’s easy to forget that taking time each day to recover is just as important. Here’s why: In order for your muscles to repair after a challenging workout, they need time to heal. Recovery = Results! Today I’m sharing my muscle recovery routine with you. I always carve out at least a few minutes for recovery work before bedtime. It helps me get ready for another day of working out, plus it feels amazing! I find that it relaxes not only my muscles, but my entire nervous system and helps me sleep more soundly!
For me personally, I like to focus on my hips, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors and quads when I’m foam rolling. Just use your hands to brace you for balance and when you find a spot that’s particularly tight, try to sit into it and breathe for 20-30 seconds before moving on. Trust me, everyone feels awkward when they first start doing this, but you’ll get used to it and find your own routine and what works best for you! Be sure to check out my 6 Minute Foam Rolling Routine video on LEVEL UP Online to see exactly how I foam roll.
This foam roller is an absolute lifesaver when it comes to muscle recovery and soreness. It’s compact, making it easy to work with and I find that the nodules get deep into the layers of my muscles for optimal results. I also swear that using this roller regularly has diminished my cellulite (HUGE bonus)! If you find that the nodules on this particular roller are too intense for you, just use a smooth one instead. Amazon has every kind of foam roller you could imagine and I have provided two links below to eliminate the guesswork on choosing the right one.
Lacrosse Ball Massage
Over time, exercise can often form muscle adhesions, or knots, that can lead to discomfort and increased soreness in the body. I love using my lacrosse ball as another, more targeted and intense form of myofascial muscle release. Lacrosse balls are hard and dense, making them the perfect tool for a deep and effective massage.
I especially like to focus on my upper trapezius muscles (an area where so many of us hold a LOT of tension), between the shoulder blades, and my mid back (aka thoracic spine). To do this, lay down and place the ball under your back wherever you want to focus on. Then with your hands by your sides, start to roll your back around and down into the ball. You can even bridge your hips up to create more body weight and apply deeper pressure into the muscle. Do a static hold for 20-30 seconds where it feels locked up and then go back to rolling over that area with the ball. This should be a pretty intense massage, so do whatever feels good for you! Check out my Lacrosse Ball Deep Massage video on LEVEL UP Online for a visual how-to!
Neck Tension Release Exercise
This particular neck tension release exercise was recommended to me by my trusted chiropractor, client and friend Dr. Bridget Scott in Danville, CA. This technique requires two props- a yoga block (or some means of elevating your head off the floor approx. 4-6”) and a double ball tool (you could also duct tape two tennis balls together). Together, these tools provide an effective way to relieve tension at the base of the skull, specifically in the sub-occipital muscles. The sub-occipital muscles attach the neck to the base of the skull and for most of us, a great deal of tension is held here. This tightness in the upper neck can hinder mobility and cause intense neck pain and headaches. Issues like these are likely due to our poor posture with a forward head carriage (where the head juts out in front of, instead of stacking over, the spine- blog on posture coming soon!). Likely the culprit of this kind of posture and pain is too much time spent on our phones, at the computer, and in our cars!
To perform this neck tension relief exercise, prop the double ball tool on top of the yoga block at the edge closest to you and lay back onto it, placing the double ball tool at the base of your skull. Move your head up and down (like nodding “yes”) and side to side (like nodding “no”), feeling the pressure of the tool in the back of the neck right at the base of your skull. To LEVEL UP this stretch, place your feet hip-width apart and bridge your hips up, creating more body weight and intensifying the pressure. Give those neck muscles a deep simultaneous massage and stretch, taking lots of inhales and exhales to try and relax through it. This should feel divine and the relief is instantaneous!
Check out my Neck Tension Stretching Exercise video on LEVEL UP Online for another visual how-to!
This device has seriously changed my muscle-recovery game, and it’s worth every penny! This hand-held, percussion massager has 3 different speeds, perfect for finding the appropriate intensity for each area of the body. The HyperVolt is SO easy to use, just turn it on and apply to any area that feels sore, tight, or tense. I use this all over my body- particularly on my hips, glutes, and upper traps! I find that using the HyperVolt helps relieve soreness and tension, while also improving my circulation and mobility.
Stretching is important for anyone with an active lifestyle to keep your body performing at an optimal level. But is important for those who have a more sedentary lifestyle due to being seated at a desk at work, or spending a prolonged amount of time in the car. Sitting in general for extended periods of time locks up the body and leaves us feeling tight and tense. Our bodies were meant to MOVE! So no matter what your day looks like, try to incorporate stretching as a daily habit. Besides the fact that it feels incredible, stretching regularly has helped with my flexibility and range of motion in my joints. Stretching frequently has also been proven to improve blood circulation and flow to the muscles, which helps reduce soreness and helps you recover faster too! A win-win-win! I recommend to start by implementing a 5-10 minute stretch routine every night before bed. Remember, any amount of stretching is better than nothing!
I set out my muscle recovery props right by my bed as a visual cue to remind me that I need to commit a few minutes before bed to recover. I view this time as a a form of self-care, just as I do my workouts. I know that I’ll feel so much better in the morning if I can dedicate this time to taking care of my body! If you’re a multitasker like me, listen to a podcast, watch TV, call a friend, or just have some quiet alone time to get centered. Devote more time to giving your muscles some love every night and I promise you will wake up feeling refreshed and ready to LEVEL UP in the morning.
Check out my “LEVEL UP Stretching & Recovery Work” Collection on LEVEL UP Online for more recovery tips to help increase flexibility and relieve your body of tension and pain.
Your body will thank you!
Helpful Amazon Links:
Addaday Foam Roller: https://amzn.to/3e90Yoc
Smooth Foam Roller: https://amzn.to/3c8D8HA
Trigger Point/Massage Lacrosse Ball: https://amzn.to/3cTglkf
Yoga Block: https://amzn.to/3gdj36r
Double Ball Tool: https://amzn.to/2WRY9lG
Hypervolt Massager: https://amzn.to/3e6QhCp