You Need a Day OFF!

You Need A Day Off!

By Tiffany Karger

Raise your hand if you walked out of a class or workout and didn’t take the time to stretch. Now raise your hand if you do not take one or more off days per week. I know most and possible maybe all of you reading this do at least one or the other. As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I can say with confidence that one of the biggest faults in the fitness industry is the lack of knowledge with recovery and its high importance.

To be holistically healthy in all areas of life we need a balance of exercise, nutrition, meditation, and recovery. If one of the four are not met, we will not see results. Being in the fitness industry for the past three years, I noticed that recovery is always forgotten. I teach 14 classes per week and rarely do I see anyone take the time after class to properly recover (i.e. Stretching, self-myofascial release, etc.). When we are taking a class, weight lifting, or running, we break down and create micro-tears within the muscle. For the muscle to repair and grow stronger, recovery needs to happen. Taking time to the stretch and rest helps with blood flow, increase muscle strength/size, and prevent injury. The “No Days Off” lifestyle halts muscle repair and therefore the body never heals properly. We wear fit bits and apple watches to track steps and count our calorie burn for the day. Getting so caught in the numbers, we lose sight in what our body really needs… a day off.

My Top 4 Recovery Techniques (I promise no burpees!)

  1. Rest: Now we are talking about actual rest, sleep. This is one of the most important ways to get your body to quickly recover from the physical and mental demands of hard training.
  2. Hydration: No not alcohol. We need to consume at around eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. That number goes up when our activity increases. Drink up!
  3. Self-myofascial Release: Foam rolling!!! Taking at least 10-15 minutes per day to give your muscles a little TLC. Don’t know how to foam roll? I am at the studio 24/7 so ask me about tips and tricks to foam rolling. I am more than happy to help.
  4. Fuel Your Body: Your muscles need to eat so feed them well. Focus on whole nutrient dense foods to give your body what it needs.

Treat yo self and your body too.

My holiday wish list….Pilates, massage & foam rollers, oh my!

 

• Maybe your hips are tight. 

• Maybe your back is locked and it’s affecting your sleep, your energy, and your mood.

• Maybe you have sciatica pain down your leg and it’s affecting your activities of daily living.

• Maybe your range of motion is lessened due to tightness in the rotator cuff.

• Maybe you’re overweight and the excess fat is hurting your joints. Or your heart.

• Maybe you’re depressed right now.

• Maybe your hormones are raging and all over the place.

 

My friend, enough is enough. Today is the first day of your new plan to restore, re-energize and recover. Today you will change your direction away from injury toward wellness. Today, you become the captain of your health and begin your plan to FEEL YOUR BEST. You see, we live in a traditional system that is predominately REACTIVE but we need to be PROACTIVE. And so I ask, “Why Wait?” Why wait for a need so great?

Permit me to make some professional recommendations that will help you improve your performance and everyday living. Your LIFE. These are methods, tools and modalities that will help you live and feel extraordinary.

Note: And if you are currently in a high-intensity interval training program (like our classes at Allegro), then these restorative measures are even more important to help you recover and re-energize. Together, it’s an ideal combination to help you BE YOUR BEST.

Pilates.

It’s almost 100 years old and a great form of exercise. Pilates has changed my entire philosophy of training and how improving our stabilization first gives us a firm foundation to build strength, power and endurance. Pilates provides full body conditioning to build flexibility, lengthen muscles, and strength legs, abdominals, arms, hips, and back. There are some very specific, unique exercises for the feet, for ankle mobility, for hip mobility, and core strengthening. While Pilates is a great form of strength training for most, I love it for the restorative aspect as well. The breath work alone is therapeutic as it calms the central nervous system. The purpose of Pilates is to help you open your body, create balance, awareness and strength. At Allegro, we call this class “CRUNCH”.

 

Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.

Ahhhh. Why do we wait until something hurts to get a massage? Despite hundreds of different forms of bodywork, the bottom line is that soft tissue work manipulates fascia to help restore balance and alignment. A great goal is one hour of massage each week. A minimum goal is one hour of massage a month. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

 

Massage also allows you to disconnect with the “busyness” of life. There’s a lot to be said for that. Simply put, I believe folks who get regular massage are just happier human beings. I get one every single month and it is the highlight of my month. If you need a good referral, we have a few select therapists who are absolutely divine!

Chiropractic and Physical Therapy.

Alert. Alert. Alert. You do NOT need to be hurt to see a chiropractor. As a matter of fact, I’m going to encourage you to visit a skilled chiropractor BEFORE you get hurt. Chiropractors can really help your neuro-muscular system as well as your skeletal system. They do far more than adjust the spine.

 

Nowadays, many chiropractors infuse highly touted progressive protocols as part of their treatment services: A.R.T. (Active Release Technique), cold-laser therapy, Graston, Kinesiology taping, etc.

Chiropractors and physical therapists can play a pivotal role in helping you perform and feel your best. Their services should not only be associated with recovery from injury.

 

Foam Rolling.

Some call it “poor man’s massage.” I say it’s a “smart ADDITION to massage.” Foam rolling creates self myo-fascial release (myo = muscle; fascia = connective tissue enveloped around every tendon, ligament, nerve, muscle, bone, and organ of the body). You can do this practically anyplace, anywhere. Purchase an inexpensive foam-roller or Grid for less than $40 and use it EVERYDAY. Just 10-15 minutes on the mid-thoracic region, glutes, IT-Band, calves, quads, and lats will go a long way toward soft tissue pliability. This is a GREAT thing.

Jock-O-lates?

Can Pilates improve your Sports Performance?

Last month, my friend and head baseball coach at Calvin College, John Sparks, asked me if I knew of a great yoga instructor he could hire. Unfortunately, that is one of the only classes I am not equipped to teach but I asked him what his intention was. His goal was to have his entire varsity baseball team take a class during the off season to improve their flexibility, range of motion and core strength. Ahhh, yes…sounds quite similar to my favorite workout: PILATES.

One of the most common questions I get from people is the different between yoga and Pilates. I am happy to explain but the best way to understand it is to take both and see which style you gravitate to with your personality and fitness goals. Both forms of exercises are called “Mind-Body”, which means they connect the mind to your physical movements, creating improved body awareness and thoughtfulness. In Pilates, we focus on breath work to set the tone for movements or repetiions. Some of the other key fundamentals of Pilates is stabilization, differentiation, flow and control. In a nutshell, though Pilates will help you get lean and long through your mid-section, reducing low back pain, releasing hip tightness and strengthening weaker glute muscles.

But then, as a former athlete, what was it that made me gravitate so much towards this form of exercise? I mean, I used to love running suicides and sweating from hours of defensive drills. How could this be used for athletes?

Well, not only did I have my best performance this fall at the Reed’s Lake Triathlon (with the least sport-specific training ever), but I started to do some research. Pilates has always been popular with dancers, but did you know that over 6,000 professional golfers and pro tennis players practice some form of Pilates during their off season? And these numbers keep increasing each year.

Pilates is not just for the beginner, the rehab patient or the woman. No, this can increase thoracic mobility to improve your golf swing and rotation, it can strengthen your hips and pelvis to create a more powerful baseball or tennis swing, and it most certainly can correct your specific muscle imbalances, which, isn’t that what we all truly need in the end? Creating that perfect balance of strength, flexibility and mobility to edge out our opponent? Well, if you are not convinced, I dare you to take our “Crunch” classes at the new Allegro Coaching Studio this year and see for yourself. The baseball team is just wrapping up a 6-week program and 100% of the athletes have already noticed a significant improvement in posture, core strength and flexibility. We’ll just have to wait and see if it pays off for winning the 2012 conference and edging out their opponent Hope College! Go Knights!