Author: Beth Flory, Co-owner of Pole Kisses
New Year’s resolutions often include lofty goals to get in shape, such as running every morning, hitting the weights at the gym every night, or joining your local aerial fitness gym. How many of you can relate to the following story?
January and February I ran into the gym with fervor, ready to slay those goals. Two months into the new workout routine, I pulled a muscle and hurt my back, forcing me to take 2 weeks off. 2 weeks became 3 weeks; 3 weeks became a month…you get the idea. What if I hurt myself again? I tried to make this a part of my schedule, but now the habit is lost, and I failed my goal. I do this every single year!
This failure could be because you haven’t learned one very important aspect of an effective exercise routine: RECOVERY! Don’t worry, unless you are a personal trainer or self-proclaimed exercise aficionado, you probably wouldn’t know much about recovery strategies. Recovering from heavy exercise is crucial to prevent injuries, promote overall well-being, improve your skill, and reach your goals. So, let’s talk about getting into recovery mode!
Rest and Sleep:
I know, I know, you have heard this tip over and over. Everyone says you should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Sometimes it is so hard, especially if you have children, or work the midnight shift on the Vegas strip! However, it is essential for muscle repair and overall recovery. So, make an effort to get those quality Z’s!
Please do not work out every single day. Most experts say 1 to 3 rest days are ideal. If you are new to aerial fitness, you may need 4 or 5 rest days! When I first started pole dance fitness, my body could only handle 2 classes per week. When I started to gain muscle, my recovery shortened, and I increased to 4 and 5 days per week. I know it is hard to take days off because aerial fitness is so fun, and you are determined to reach those goals, so I present you an alternative…
Ok, I understand this may seem weird, but you should workout to recover. Just don’t do the same workouts. Engage in low-intensity activities like walking, cycling, or swimming on rest days to promote blood flow without adding excessive stress to the body. Does this still not fulfill your quench for crushing those fitness goals? Then the next tip is for you…
Stretching and Flexibility Exercises:
We have numerous flexibility and yoga classes on our class SCHEDULE at Pole Kisses. It is helpful to take flexibility classes because you can learn proper technique to use when you are stretching at home. Do you watch TV at night? Instead of laying on the couch, move the coffee table and stretch. Static and dynamic stretching can help improve flexibility and reduce muscle tightness.
Another lesson we hear on repeat…drink water! Drink a glass when you wake up. Drink water before, during, and after exercise. Drink water while staring blankly at the report you need to finish in 1 hour. Drink water all day long! Get yourself a fancy bottle if you need to. People are totally obsessed with Stanley Tumblers right now, so buy one of those to be cool. Whatever it takes, drink more water! (Speaking of Stanley, we are even more obsessed with Stanley Cup Champions, our Vegas Golden Knights. Go Knights Go!)
Nutrition and Protein Intake:
A balanced diet is key to recovery, which includes a mix of proteins, veggies, fruits and yes, those dreaded carbs. News flash, healthy carbs help deliver energy to your muscles, so you don’t want to completely cut them out of your diet. OMG there is so much content on this topic. After reading article upon article, it seems to me it comes down to one pretty simple rule. Avoid refined and fake sugars, and anything overly processed. Moving on…
When I first started taking pole dance classes, I had horrible muscle aches in my upper back, neck, traps, and shoulders. I tried everything on this list, including my coworkers TENS unit, and nothing seemed to help. I spoke with my pole dance instructor, and she asked, “Are you getting enough protein?” I was a vegetarian at the time, and admittedly terrible at eating a balanced diet. Not because vegetarians don’t have options, but because of my own negligence and love of macaroni and cheese. I am happy to report that this advice was a game changer. Lesson: Ensure an adequate intake of protein to support muscle protein synthesis and recover faster. This can come from sources like lean meats, dairy, eggs, and plant-based proteins.
I personally decided to return to being a carnivore, but totally understand those who want to maintain their vegetarian or vegan diet. I still love vegetarian and vegan dishes and eat them often. If you are a vegetarian who needs some protein packed recipe ideas, check out this cookbook. Otherwise, Orgain Simple Protein Powder is a popular option if you are having difficulty getting enough protein with your regular meals.
Foam Rolling and Self-Myofascial Release (SMR):
I love a foam roller! We keep several at Pole Kisses for students to use before and after class, as well as during open gym. Use a foam roller or massage stick to release tension in muscles and fascia. SMR can help improve circulation and reduce muscle soreness. I love leaning those sore deltoids into a lacrosse ball.
FOAM ROLLERS are inexpensive, easy use, and I highly recommend you keep one in your house. They fit perfectly behind the couch or under the bed.
Cold and Hot Therapy:
Ice baths or cold compresses can help reduce inflammation and muscle soreness, while hot showers or heating pads can improve blood flow and relax tight muscles. Here is a great article about Cryotherapy Cold Therapy for Pain Management from Johns Hopkins Medicine that can help guide you on proper technique.
I am a HUGE fan of a relaxing in a steaming hot Epsom salt bath. Epson salt can reduce inflammation and relax your sore muscles. Several of us at Pole Kisses, both staff and students, are downright obsessed with Dr. Teals Hemp Seed Oil Epson Salt. It has been a topic of discussion on several occasions, and even got put into the raffle prize baskets at our last Student/Instructor Showcase. This stuff is muscle pain relieving magic! Light a candle, put on your favorite tunes, and relax the night away. Remember, it is part of your New Year’s Resolution to get in shape. So, if recovery is a critical part of getting in shape, you can argue that taking more baths has to be part of your fitness goals.
Sometimes, you have to go to a pro. Consider seeking the help of professionals such as physical therapists, massage therapists, or chiropractors for targeted treatments. Students and instructors who regularly engage in competitions will tell you they have their masseuse and chiropractor on speed dial. Just like hot baths, I totally just gave you an excuse to get regular massages! Now that is a New Year’s resolution I can get behind.
Remember that individual responses to recovery methods may vary, so it’s essential to listen to your body and adjust your recovery strategies accordingly. I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice. The above advice is based on personal experience. There have been times that my pain warranted professional medical attention. Listen to your body. If your pain is sharp, or you not recovering quickly, please see a physician. If you have any recovery tips you swear by, please EMAIL me. I would love to share your recovery tips with our bungee and aerial fitness community!
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