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Revive and Thrive: The Top 10 Ways to Recover After Your Workout

Updated: Dec 31

Karen Baltz Gibbs, #Physical Therapist, #Personal Trainer, #Garage Training & Rehab Gym

Massage to recover from workouts
Therapist massaging shoulder complex

Number 1: Schedule with a Licensed Massage Therapist

The best way to find Licensed Massage Therapists is by word of mouth. This might be by asking friends, asking questions on local social media groups, or asking your medical providers. Otherwise, you can look up your State Massage Therapy Association and they usually have resources on how to find a Massage Therapist near you.

Number 2: Use massage tools at home

I now have affiliations (listing those tools that I trust) with a few companies on my website. After 25 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist, I have a lot of experience working at many events, attended many massage tool classes & expos and I have a few I believe are the best. These include vibration tools like Hyperice ball and massage guns like Raymad. Of course, there are several brands with many features as well as cost points to consider. I like to personally try out several types when I go to fitness events. I also like Fitball for small ball release techniques. They have a knobby surface vs. a smooth surface, for better grip on the soft tissues. I like my Nike high-density recovery ball for getting to my hamstrings and a good old tennis ball for specific areas along my spine or calf massage. I also use a Naboso barefoot technology yoga mat. It is designed to stimulate the nerves in your feet. I have used cupping tools, scraping-type tools, and more. There are many tools to fit your needs. Find what works for you and be consistent with doing recovery work during the week. I used to wake up at 5 am to do this, but now I found that self-massage tools before I sleep work better for me.

Number 3: Schedule rest, meditation, down time.

"Take Rest Seriously, Too often we treat rest as merely the absence of work, or something that gets in the way of reaching our goals. In reality, hard work and deliberate rest are partners, each sustains and supports the other". "Rest" by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Rest and stretching time are often the things we don't protect in our schedule. Then we get to a point where we are physically stiff and achy and are not recovering well. Mentally we are more stressed, irritable, and fatigued. This is why we have to schedule rest so that we can continue to progress forward in the training of our bodies and our minds. You've probably heard of the Mind-Body connection. Scientists have found that emotions influence our health and longevity.

Number 4: Deep breathing exercises

Years ago, I was in a class taught by Mary Massery, a Doctor of Physical Therapy. The class was titled, " If You Can't Breathe, You Can't Function". She explained that breathing was a multi-system event. She explained the body works as a unit with all the individual systems interacting and supporting each other. Examples are the connection with posture and breathing, internal functions like our gastrointestinal (GI) tract with breathing, pelvic floor function with breathing, and core or abdominal stability with breathing.

visit Mary Massery's website:

If you feel that you don't know how to breathe correctly, you are not alone. There are many approaches to this but the best way is to start slow. A Physical Therapist, Yoga and pilates instructors, and Mental Health providers can teach you how with feedback. One website has audio to help you do this.

The University of Melbourne, Counseling and Psychological services provides this:

Number 5: Schedule with Personal Trainer

What is a Personal Trainer? A Personal Trainer is a fitness expert who works with a variety of people, novice to advanced. They can change directions to meet the needs of various ages and fitness levels. Their focus is on fitness, weight loss, sports conditioning, and general health and wellness. They help you with:

  • accountability

  • goal setting

  • individualized exercise plan

  • exercise variety

  • motivation

  • education

  • challenge to improve

  • progression of fitness

  • monitoring to prevent injury, correct form and technique

Number 6: Schedule with Physical Therapist

What is a Physical Therapist? The American Physical Therapy Association states,

Physical Therapists are movement experts who improve quality of life through prescribed exercise, hands-on care, and patient education. Physical Therapists diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to people at the end of life. Many patients have injuries, disabilities, or other health conditions that need treatment. PTs also care for people who simply want to become healthier and to prevent future problems.

Physical Therapists examine each person and then develop a treatment plan to improve their ability to move, reduce or manage pain, restore function, and prevent disability.

Physical Therapists can have a profound effect on people’s lives. They help people achieve fitness goals, regain or maintain their independence, and lead active lives.

Visit, APTA’s official consumer information website, to learn more about the benefits of physical therapy.

Number 7: Ice baths/ Contrast baths

Most athletes have experienced ice baths at some time. Now, more groups are teaching the recovery benefits of ice baths and or contrast baths. What is an ice bath or contrast bath?

The National Institute of Health explains, "Taking a post-exercise plunge into an ice bath at 12–15°C appears to be a common practice among many elite athletes. This is believed to be a practice that would reduce muscle pain and soreness after training sessions and competitions. Some athletes prefer to use contrast water therapy, i.e. alternating immersion in cold and warm water. Many use either ice bath immersion for a period of 5–10 min (sometimes reported up to 20 min) or alternating therapy between the ice bath plunge and tepid water immersion, each lasting 1–5 min." They conclude that there is a lack of evidence on a large scale to support the claims.

Number 8: Drink your water

It is stated that our bodies are around two-thirds water! Our bones are 30 percent water. Many resources speak of the effects of dehydration and how our bodies respond to this. Recovery has to include getting enough and the cleanest form of water. Unfortunately, convenience comes at a price to communities, environments, and our health. It is important to learn about the quality of drinking water in your geographic area. It is also important to know that you are not just drinking water when you use water from single-use plastic bottles: you are ingesting microplastics that are known to be disruptive to our hormones and overall health.

Some people like to drink sports drinks and energy drinks. There is no evidence that sports drinks hydrate you more than drinking water. Sports drinks contain high levels of sugar and red number 40 dye that have serious effects on health. If you are engaging in vigorous exercise for more than an hour and sweating profusely, there are better options for replenishment. Energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine. People experience caffeine overdoses and energy drink consumption can increase arterial stiffness in healthy young people, raising blood pressure. Caffeine can be used safely in moderate consumption for health and athletic performance.

Number 9: Get enough sleep

It is known that while you sleep, your brain consolidates memories, processing what you have learned, repairing physical damage, and generating dreams. Our bodies shift into maintenance mode, fixing and replacing damaged cells. Long-term sleep deprivation can affect your mental health and physical condition. There are different stages of sleep and we must get enough of stage four, REM (deep sleep) for recovery. You can learn more from various resources, including the chapter about Sleep in "Rest" by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang.

Number 10: Eat right

This is a topic that gives mixed emotions to many. It is important with many things in life to be an informed consumer. We cannot rely on others to tell us what we should eat. You can talk with your medical provider or ask for a nutritional referral to get started. You may need to get allergy or food sensitivity testing. Then it is about preferences, finances, and learning about what your nutritional needs are. Unfortunately, some information out there has caused more confusion than educating about the basic information that is needed. You also need to have an overall medical screen, this may require you to make immediate changes in your diet. There has been unchanging information for the last 50 years about the most healthy food choices.

Recovery is important in what you eat. Many foods, especially fruits and vegetables contain anti-inflammatory properties. Scott Jurek, an ultramarathoner and Physical Therapist, gives an example of a recipe called "Strawburst Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie for before and after exercise. He lists anti-inflammatory ingredients electrolyte replacement ingredients and edamame for a whole-food protein boost. This recipe only takes 1-2 minutes in a blender. Yes, making using whole and plant-based is best. The convenience of consuming processed energy bars, etc has to be weighed against their typically having more chemicals than nutrients.

Here is one website with Scott Jurek's recipe:

#Live Inspired,

Karen Baltz Gibbs, PT, DPT, CSCS, CMP, LMT

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