Importance of Stretching, Sleep, & Recovery

Contributed By Maria Waldron, Author / Owner of A Life To Bragg About

A lot of people tend to emphasize how many days they've worked out that week and for how long. While I can be guilty of this sometimes, I'm aware that stretching and recovery is just as important as working out. By allowing your body to recover, your muscles are given time to repair their fibers, grow and refuel energy storage systems (trying not to get too technical here).  Also, overtraining can actually cause muscle atrophy, fatigue, workout burnout and decreased aerobic performance. You CAN wear your body out and you CAN injure your body in the long run by training too much, too hard and not allowing your body time to heal. 

Another critical thing I try to remember is to STRETCH. Stretching is so important after working out as it helps build long, lean muscle after a particularly tough strength training session. You can decrease lactic acid build up and allow more blood flow to the muscles for optimal growth. And by stretching you increase flexibility which further improves whatever exercise you're trying to excel at. 

One of the best ways I love to stretch? Foam roll! It's like $15.00 massage for the rest of your life (or until your foam roller softens and gets flat lol) but the myofascial release feels pretty dang amazing when your body is sore.

Besides, it just feels so good. Like pleasure pain. Mmm.... 

As for sleep? Sleep is crucial. I can definitely tell with my workouts when I've slept a good 7-8 hours per night versus those nights where I toss and turn and wake up feeling like crap. Even my eating is better when I sleep well. When I don't sleep well, I turn to sugar laden foods or caffeine to keep myself awake and we all know that's just not healthy. Plus, your metabolism slows down when you don't get enough sleep. On TOP of that, when you don't get a good night's sleep you don't produce enough leptin which is the hormone that makes keeps you full. So you end up eating more just to satisfy yourself. What's even worse is that you start to produce the hormone ghrelin instead which makes you hungry.

It's a nasty double edged sword that bites you in the arse. All you have to do is go to bed early to avoid that mess! 

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