6 Recovery Techniques To Release Tension & Align Your Body
At mbg, we've long been interested in recovery techniques as part of a well-rounded fitness program and predicted that we'd see an even greater shift toward it in 2019. Lo Roxburgh, best-selling author, mbg class instructor, and expert on fascia and alignment, joined me on the mbg podcast to talk about how she got started in movement medicine and let us in on the best ways to relieve tension.
Growing up, she was an All-American swimmer who understood the importance of taking care of her body. When her mother was diagnosed with Stage 5 breast cancer when Lo was 16, she took a step back and realized just how important the mind-body connection was.
She went on to get degrees in nutrition and physiology and certifications in structural integration, Pilates, and personal training. Now Lo works with clients to help them align their bodies and inner selves. Here, six recovery techniques Lo swears by for releasing tension:
Take three deep breaths.
One of the most important ways to release tension is to allow space for the body to expand. As a society, we spend a lot of time sitting and contracting our muscles, and Lo says a great way to create more space is to practice deep breathing. Take a deep breath into your belly. This breath pushes the diaphragm down into the organs and expands the pelvic floor. From there, the fluid in our nervous system can feed the nutrients in the brain and release toxins. Each time you take a deep breath is an opportunity to cleanse your system. Repeat this breathing exercise three times or as much as needed. Most people can take about 2 gallons' worth of oxygen into our lungs, but most people are only using about 20% to 30% of lung capacity, explained Lo, and this is a way to work toward getting more oxygen into the lungs.
Do a side bend or cat and cow exercise.
A lot of Lo's work centers around fascia, a connective tissue all over the body that's right underneath the skin. This tissue also wraps around our muscles and can get stuck and create blockages, both emotional and physical. If you're experiencing pain or feel tense anyway, this could mean your fascia is stagnant. Lo recommends standing up if you've been sitting all day and doing some side bends or sitting and doing a seated twist. It's especially helpful to wake up the body in the morning with some cat and cows or light stretching as the fascia has stiffened in the night to help the body heal.
Roll out with a foam roller.
Lo is a foam-rolling guru (interested? check out her class on mbg) and swears by it for releasing compressed fascia. Foam rolling helps to jump-start circulation and hydration, and you'll notice more flexibility and range of motion over time. Start with some basic foam-rolling techniques, and let the practice be like a massage—your muscles and fascia will thank you.
Take a magnesium bath or supplement.
Sitting in a bath with magnesium chloride salts will help relax your cells and fascia. You can also take a magnesium supplement at night, which will help relax your nervous system further, helping you sleep better.
Eat for your fascia.
We know food is medicine, and in this case, bone broth might do the trick for tight fascia. Along with a steaming cup of bone broth, eat foods high in vitamins and antioxidants for even more relief.
Relax & strengthen your pelvic floor.
We often don't think about the pelvic floor because it's not usually addressed in exercises classes or with practitioners. But Lo points out that the pelvic floor is critically important as it's connected to gut health, and with sitting and clenching all the time, the muscles can weaken over time. To strengthen your pelvic floor, you can do things like a deep squat, which helps expand and stretch the pelvic floor. There are also fun ways to work out your pelvic floor, for example, jumping on the trampoline. With each jump, you'll be contracting and releasing, which is a great way to build up strength.
Recovery is not only a vital part of a fitness routine, it's also become part of our wellness conversation. Join in!
Olessa Pindak is the editor-at-large at mindbodygreen. She’s worked at Condé Nast, Rodale, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and more. She's held executive and senior staff positions at many health & wellness publications including Prevention, Whole Living (Body & Soul), Natural Health, and Fit Pregnancy. Pindak has appeared frequently in the media talking about health & wellness, including appearances on the Today show, Good Morning America, and The Doctors. She has hosted a radio show on Sirius XM and many episodes of the mindbodygreen podcast. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. Follow her on twitter at @opindak.