Rest, Recover and Repair: Self-Care Workout Routines

Kick Soreness and Exhaustion in the Fanny

When you're invested in a fitness program, and you're working hard to improve your health and physique, it's easy to develop a "more is better" attitude. I mean, if three workouts a week is good, surely four is better? Or maybe five, six or even seven?

The trouble with this slippery slope is that your body actually needs time away from the gym to rest and recover. You see, contrary to popular belief, your body actually experiences change while it's at rest - not while you're pumping iron or running a race.

During exercise, you're placing stress on your physiological systems. Your heart, lungs and muscles are all pushed past their comfort zones and may even experience micro-damage. This sounds terrible, but it's actually good.

After a bout of exercise, and during the crucial recovery period, your body ramps up cellular turnover and begins repairing the damage it experienced. The good news is, it doesn't just put you back where you started, it builds you back bigger and better to be able to withstand the same stress more effectively the next time you exercise.

Think of it this way - let's say a minor earthquake damaged a bridge. When crews come back to fix the bridge, they don't just make repairs, they take steps to prevent the same type of damage from happening again. They improve the construction and make the bridge stronger.

Your body does the same thing following exercise.

If you fail to prioritize rest and recovery - if you fail to take rest days, get enough sleep, or properly manage muscle tightness, you could end up shortchanging your results, leaving yourself open to performance deficits, overtraining and injury. Use these tips to ensure you're getting the rest and recovery your well-worked body deserves.

Home-Based BodyTRAC Workout for Myofascial Release

BodyTRAC Workout
New York Health & Racquet Club

Self-massage post-workout is a great way to help prevent and release fascial adhesions that can lead to muscle imbalances and injury. BodyTRAC is one workout program designed to lead participants through a series of massage techniques. These four exercises can help you experience the same benefits at home.

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5 MELT Method Moves to Make Your Whole Body Feel Great

Back of Thigh Shear
MELT Method, photo by Brian Leighton

The MELT Method uses a soft foam roller to identify and correct muscle imbalances in just 10 minutes a day. These five moves can be done at home, even if you don't have a soft foam roller. Just roll up a yoga mat or a thick towel to give them a try.

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Benefits of Foam Rolling and Foam Rolling Classes

Foam Rolling
Getty Images/Kristian Sekulic

If you're not familiar with foam rolling, it's time to give it a try. Foam rolling is one of the most popular forms of self-massage for athletes and active individuals. You can do it at home or in a class setting to work out the kinks using a cylindrical foam apparatus.

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Benefits of Whole Body Vibration Training

Hip Roll Out

While vibration training isn't just used for rest and recovery, it can further enhance a foam rolling exercise, deepening the effects of the self-massage. Use this exercise as a starting point for your own vibration foam rolling routine.

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Stay Active During Recovery: Use a Walker for Fitness During Rehab

One-legged squats with a walker. Danielle Press

Sometimes injuries happen, but sitting on the sidelines for months on end isn't going to help you recover appropriately. In fact, activity is important for increasing blood flow to an injured site to help speed recovery time. With the guidance of your doctor or physical therapist, come up with a game plan for staying active while still giving your body the rest it needs to get back to 100-percent. Check out these exercises that can be done with a walker and ask your therapist if they're appropriate for you.

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Deepen Your Flexibility With Yin Yoga

Markus Boesch/Allsport Concepts/Getty Images

Maintaining and enhancing range of motion is key to long-term health. On rest days, consider adding a deep strech routine, such as yin yoga, to help loosen up tight muscles and improve flexibility.

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Strengthen Your Sleep Routine to Improve Performance

Sleep and Exercise
Getty Images/Jaunty Junto

Sleep is actually when your body repairs itself, so skimping on sleep is practically guaranteed to shortchange your workout's benefits. Learn how to prioritize and improve your sleep patterns to ultimately improve your performance.

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