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How I recover from a tough workout

Posted January 31

What we do after a workout is just as important as what we do during it. Here are the recovery methods I use to keep my body active and strong for the long-term. (Deseret Photo)

Interval training, circuit training, cycle, strength training, swimming, running, Zumba. There is a workout for every personality. As varied as each method is, they all require one thing: Recovery.

The members of my classes have heard me say it a thousand times: what you do after your workout is as important as what you did during the workout. Whatever stress we put our bodies under, it's during the recovery phase that we get stronger. After years of teaching fitness classes and marathon training, I’ve learned how to care for my body so it lasts as long as I do. While every body is different, here’s what I do to repair, restore and recover.

  1. Yoga. It’s more than stretching. It develops balance, physical strength and mental toughness. It allows me to slow down and be present. When I practice weekly, everything from my core outward changes. My chronically tight hamstrings loosen up. My glutes engage. My muscles lengthen. But more importantly are the mental benefits. I become more present. I am more in tune with my body and what it needs. Strength, breath and balance. It’s all there.
  2. Epsom salt baths. The jury is out on their effectiveness, but I love them. Grab a book, a tall glass of ice water (I’ll get to that in a moment) and let the warm water do its magic. Epsom salts are inexpensive and some claim they detoxify and reenergize. Whether they really do or not, it’s the perfect way to finish a long run, especially during the winter months.
  3. Hydration. Most of us walk around chronically dehydrated, me included. After my recent surgery, the medication I was taking made me extremely thirsty. Good for me because I suddenly found myself in the habit of drinking more water. Since then my headaches have disappeared. My afternoon slump is gone. I sleep better. My skin feels better and looks clearer. It’s not a magic cure-all, but it might be close. And my kidneys are extra grateful. You don’t have to guzzle milk jugs full of water. Fruits and vegetables are great, too. Is there anything better than watermelon after a summer run?
  4. Sports massage. My go-to massage business is Return to Harmony in Draper. The owner, Angel, developed the Kametz method, a specialized massage technique that identifies, treats, and reduces scar tissue, microfiber tears and bunching in the muscles, tendons and ligaments that can hinder mobility. Let’s face it. We beat up our bodies. Sometimes we need a little help to heal. I went to Return to Harmony after battling hamstring and glute issues for more than a year. After six visits I was markedly better. I now go in for monthly maintenance visits to stay on top of any twinges or tweaks. Almost two years later and I’m running stronger than ever. This is not deep tissue massage, nor is it a relaxing Swedish massage. The goal is to get deep into the muscle fibers to break up scar tissue and realign the fibers. I typically experience soreness for a few days after, but this is part of the healing process. Check them out at returntoharmony.net.
  5. Sleep. So simple, yet often neglected. I am all about sleep. With a teenager and a pre-teen, a job, family and training, it’s a challenge, but I’m always up for a challenge. Friends and family may laugh at my early bedtime, but I’m the one waking up the next day feeling ready to go. Sleep expedites the body’s healing and strengthens our immune system. Added bonus, it improves our memory. Our cells regenerate and we grow new tissue.

Putting emphasis on recovery has allowed me to continue teaching, running and biking all these years. Physical exercise isn’t something we do for a season or an event. It’s what we do for our lifetime. And it always feels good to feel good.

Kim Cowart is a wife, mother, 24-Hour Fitness instructor and marathoner.

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