Restorative Fitness - What's the Hype About?
In the 1970's, a phenomenon known as the Fitness Boom swept America and the fitness industry was born. Thanks to this movement, our knowledge of fitness and gym workouts is expansive, and we now know that anyone can take advantage of the benefits that being physically fit and healthy has to offer.
Recently, high-intensity workouts (HIIT) became popular as we learned to do more with less time in our busy lives. But now, the focus is on restorative fitness, as people are learning the benefits of balancing high-intensity workouts with recovery and restorative techniques.
What is Restorative Fitness?
Restorative fitness is a style of fitness routines as well as a certification program developed by a bio-mechanical scientist named Katy Bowman, MS. The technique views the human body as a machine and considers that the skeleton, muscles, joints, and tendons all work together as we exercise and move throughout our day. This means, that just like a machine, our bodies are subject to wear and tear of certain parts as they become overused or out of balance due to a weakness or impairment.
A restorative fitness routine is often designed by a certified Restorative Exercise Specialist (RES) and focuses on improving the strength and function of the body while incorporating either healing or preventative techniques into the program. It may be used after an injury or illness, because of a disability or as a preventative measure to balance out more high-intensity workouts that can take a toll on bones, ligaments, and joints.
Some personal trainers focus on restorative fitness as a way to get fit while paying attention to proper alignment of the entire body. It involves the use of anatomy, geometry, and biology to restore the body to optimal wellness. Many people may use a personal trainer who specializes in restorative exercise to get them started on their routine then check in with them to ensure they are continuing progress. No matter who you are, the goal is to achieve a level of fitness that will last a lifetime.
Who Needs This?
Restorative fitness is beneficial for everyone at any level of fitness. Those who have been using high-intensity exercise for some time will enjoy rejuvenation and beginner fitness enthusiasts will enjoy proper form and technique training to ensure their health journey will not be cut short. When it comes to proper fitness, rest and rejuvenation are just as important as the actual exercise. And learning how to do it right will benefit those who enjoy fitness for fun as well as professional athletes.
How is it Done?
There are many different personal trainers with various ways to teach restorative fitness. Each individual has their own needs as they work, move and exercise differently. At the same time, we each have experienced different injuries and illnesses that add to our uniqueness and needs.
Practices such as yoga, Tai Chi, stretching, and more are incorporated into an individualized program that will restore proper alignment and healthy movement to help diminish or eliminate pain, wear and tear on the body. The following are just some popular restorative techniques that may be used.
· Restorative Yoga is becoming a popular aspect of fitness and health. Yoga, by nature, is restorative as it helps one slow down and focus on breathing and alignment. Not only is it an exercise, but also a great practice in mindfulness and a form of meditation. Practicing yoga on a regular basis brings awareness to how you move your body and even how you breathe, and having more awareness means you have less chance for injuries due to unintended movements.
· Tai Chi is a form of martial arts that uses a series of slow and controlled movements to gain strength, coordination, and awareness. It is extremely beneficial for reducing stress and the relaxing movements make it an easy exercise to stick with. As it focuses on slow movements, you can develop your balance, posture, and endurance, all of which contribute to lifelong health and fitness. It makes a great compliment to any high-intensity workout and is one of the original, restorative forms of exercise.
· Pilates has traditionally been the exercise of dancers as it helps lengthen and stretch muscles while building strength and tone. Mainly performed on a machine, it uses slow controlled movements with pulleys and weights for resistance. It helps create balanced and strong muscles with a focus on breathing, so it is perfect as part of a restorative fitness program.
· Restorative Stretching is becoming more popular as people learn that stretching can make up an entire exercise session all on its own. During a stretching session, there is not much movement, but more a focus on holding a stretch to allow the muscles to lengthen without pain. Some trainers may use massage on the muscle during a stretch pose or may help guide you into different poses, depending on your body, injury or focus.
Of course, these are not the only techniques used in a restorative fitness program. Each personal trainer will use what is appropriate for the client because each client has different goals and needs. Some trainers may use traditional exercises with a focus on form and range of motion while others may incorporate HIIT on some days alternating with yoga or stretching on others.
Some restorative fitness trainers emphasize recovery as an overall aspect of total fitness. Sauna, massage, foam roller and percussion are all ways to help the body and muscles recover from an intense workout, allowing them to repair and become even stronger.
But not all recovery is an active practice. Personal trainers also emphasize the importance of sleep, diet, hydration, and posture. Restorative fitness takes a holistic approach and helps one change their lifestyle to live a full and fit life. This makes the entire process enjoyable to do as one begins to feel healthier and stronger with fewer aches and pains, especially for aging athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
With the many ways that it can be done, one thing for sure is that restorative fitness is not boring! Also, you can do it from home and guess what you can use these workouts to log miles on your favorite Yes.Fit virtual race. And perhaps, that is what all the hype is about.