Everything we see and everything we hear on television, social media, the wonderful world wide web or from our trainers and coaches and training partners or fitness idols… Everything revolves around pushing ourselves to our absolute limits. Pain is progress. Right? I mean at the very core of it the muscle burning and day after soreness is in fact the muscle rebuilding and growing stronger. And rebuilding well that’s basically the definition of restoration isn’t it? So even down to a simple formula, it would appear that restoration is an every day part of fitness because our body is constantly restoring itself and in turn becoming more fit.
But what happens when there is too much burn? Too much pushing? Too much tear and not enough restore? What happens when we just go too far and our body never gets that time it needs for proper restoration…
I feel like this is a subject that gets skipped over during typical fitness talk. Most likely because as we are promoting fitness we are trying to get the general public to move more and focus on doing physical things with our bodies rather than talking to them about resting…. and for good reason.
However, part of fitness and part of getting faster, stronger, better is embracing a restorative process. To live a fully healthy – mind, body, and soul – and happy life, we need to give ourselves an adequate amount of self-love. We need to give our bodies love. We need to allow them some time to not have the crap beat out of them. I don’t mean sitting our butts on the couch and doing nothing… (though sometimes a glass of wine, a movie, and a loved one is what me may need emotionally or mentally)… I am talking about some good old active rest time.
Being a crossfitter, I spend most of my gym time stressing my body to its absolute limits… and then past them. The barbell is a good friend of mine. I get inverted a lot. Or do some crazy monkey strength things on the rig. And I love every single second of it. I love the burn. I love feeling sore. I love knowing that my body is the strongest it has ever been. And my body loves it. My body embraces it. My body is growing and changing and getting better… But even though my body feeds off heavy lifting and aggressive tests of endurance or speed and then both of those combined haha, my body still has firm limits. It has the “I used to not be able to do this” strength limits and then it has the “If I don’t get a break I am going to burn out and I will get injured and I will feel like shit” limits. That second set of limits; those are the ones you want to recognize and make sure you are giving some attention to.
Rest is different for every athlete and every BODY. It can range from a beginner who may need 2 of these days a week to a professional who takes maybe 2 of these a month, if that. Rest can also range from the days were we only do a little stretching to maybe some light running and cardio work and some mobility on the side. Regardless, ACTIVE rest should be a planned part of every person’s fitness.
I am guilty of not giving myself the space, time, or treatment needed to heal and have paid the consequences. Healing isn’t complete rest and inactivity. Rather, healing is doing something active for your body to assist in its restoration. If you constantly heavy lift, perhaps active rest is some light cardio. If you are a runner, maybe your active rest is some yoga. Whatever it may be, switching up your routine to add in some less aggressive days every so often is beneficial to the growth and continued health of your body.
With my life being all over the damn place these days, I am insanely excited about forcing myself to get into better habits of adding stretching and mobility as a regular part of my every day, even outside the gym. I am also excited to focus on some restorative fitness for both the sake of my body and mind. I am starting by going in on a 14 Day Yoga Challenge which started today.
The #LoveYourHips Challenge ran by Brittany Suell and Lora Hogan is 14 days of hip opening yoga poses. Yoga is a fantastic supplement to all workout routines. For someone like myself with heavy lifting, it allows me to develop a better range of motion, better flexibility, and focus on gaining lean functional muscle rather than tight bulky muscle.
So whatever your poison, just make sure you are having a healthy mix of aggressive pushing the limit workouts and restorative active rest for your body. Stay healthy while you get fit.