The human body can endure more wear and tear than most people realise. Long distance running, high altitude hiking, and rugged mountain biking are some of the best ways to find out what you’re made of. But, after all the hard work, it’s vital that we give our bodies time to rest and recover.
Here, outdoors pursuits fan Sara Stringer reveals her six step process for recovery after a rewarding but exhausting adventure.
Step One – Hydration
Our metabolic rates and overall bodily systems continue to function faster than normal even after we’ve stopped exerting ourselves to the limit. Therefore it’s important to continue to drink plenty of fluids on your way home and for several days after.
Step Two – Applied Heat
Our muscles are miracles of nature going about their business unappreciated for the most part. One theory is that heat can help muscles to relax and recover. I like to have a soak in a hot bath when I get back home. A hot shower works, too. Heating pads applied locally can provide extra attention to the extremely sore spots, but be careful not to let them get too hot and scald the skin.
Step Three – Massage
After days or weeks of using muscles to the max it’s a good idea to show them some love and get a massage. An appointment isn’t necessary if you’ve got a partner and one of the portable massage chairs on the market. With that said, a couch or bed can work in a pinch, but access to the full range of sore muscles is limited without awkward changes.
Step Four – Nutrition
The chances are your outdoors adventure diet consisted predominantly of dense carbohydrates. They serve us well in times when high doses of energy are required, but now that you’re back home it’s a good idea to make up for lost time with the rest of the food pyramid. Lean meats and hefty portions of green vegetables are a good idea, however don’t abandon the carbs or headaches may ensue.
Step Five – Meditation
Maybe it’s just me, but my mind has a hard time leaving the trail once I’m back home. I can’t stop thinking about the breathtaking scenery, glimpses of wildlife, moments of triumph, bumps in the night and so forth. In order to properly get back into my normal everyday routine I must undergo a sort of meditation period. With no plans to sleep but no intention to get up, I put on some relaxing music, lay down on my bed or sofa, and simply allow myself to process all the emotions of my adventure till I become exhausted and finally let the experience go for the time being.
Step Six – Relaxation
After I’ve successfully cleared my mind of all the wound-up memories of my adventure, it’s time to finally relax. Make room for a full day off at home to recover. Get some light chores done to prevent small stresses from slipping into your subconscious, but otherwise get into some comfy clothes, climb atop a comfortable mattress, put on the TV and take it easy for awhile.
If we treat our bodies well they will look after us for decades to come.
* Thank you to Sara Stringer for contributing this post.