From our resident rock climber Amanda to our more traditional gym birds like Maya, we at Bluebird Botanicals love to move our bodies! Today also happens to be National Women’s Health & Fitness Day, so we spoke with some (primarily female) members of the Bluebird Botanicals flock about their favorite post-exercise rituals. However, in the interest of equality, we chatted with a few dudes, too.
From simple stretching and meditation to abhyanga and taking CBD, Bluebird staff members break down their favorite ways to care for their body, mind, and soul after a good ol’ sweat session.
Maintaining that post-exercise glow
One of the best things about exercise is that triumphant feeling that follows the workout. And it’s not just a case of patting yourself on the back for a job well done – your brain releases endorphins that are real happy-makers.
We chatted with some Bluebirds about their favorite ways to help extend that feelin’-fine attitude long after your heart rate has returned to a steady state.
Feel great – meditate!
Bluebird’s graphic designers Aimee Cormier and Brit Giles are big fans of reconnecting to breath and body after a good workout. Whether you choose to practice a traditional, seated meditation or opt for a moving meditation, this is a great way to rebalance your system after something strenuous.
Even if meditation isn’t your thing, mindfulness in general can go hand-in-hand (or hand-in-foot) with stretching. Just be present, focus on deep belly breathing, and let your body rebalance itself.
Steam rooms and saunas
This one was touted by our own Michael and Wiley as the ultimate way to bring your sweat session to completion. Wiley even went so far as to call the steam room, “the dessert of the workout.”
While I haven’t been lucky enough to be able to consistently incorporate this practice into my own routine, I must say my interest to start has been piqued. Saunas and steam rooms have been used in many cultures for thousands of years for the purposes of purification, cleansing and healing. This is because temporarily increasing the body’s core temperature produces a response that helps condition the body for future heat stressors and promote homeostasis among primarily regulatory systems. You can read all about this process involving heat shock proteins.
Michael has an additional reason he loves saunas – heritage. Both Michael and the word “sauna” have Finnish roots. Michael also grew up sitting in saunas with his father, lending this ritual both a nostalgic and traditional feeling for him that really provides a sense of completion to his workouts.
What’s better than reconnecting with childhood memories and soaking up some steam at the same time?
This one comes from Finance Bluebird Alexa. Abhyanga, part of the concept of ayurveda, is the process of anointing the body with oil as part of a self-massage regimen. Self-massage alone is great as a post-exercise ritual. It can help stimulate blood flow, melting tension from sore muscles – and it feels soooo good!
The practice of abhyanga, like Michael’s experience with saunas, is rooted in ritual and culture. The Sanskrit work sneha can actually be translated to both the words “oil,” and “love.” And not much sounds better for a post-exercise ritual than caring for your body by covering it with oil and love.
Supporting general post-exercise wellness
Roll, roll, roll your quads
…and your IT bands, and really any area of muscular discomfort. While this recommendation comes from Bluebird’s Marketing Director, Jason, it’s also one of my personal favorites.
Massage rollers have evolved from the days of the simple foam roller, seeming to get more innovative each year. Jason, an avid ultra-runner, loves the R8 deep tissue massage roller, a revolutionary design that takes the weird maneuvering out of muscle rolling and easily allows you to target any muscular group that needs a little TLC.
However, if you’re looking for something a little simpler (and more affordable), you could try these Myofascial Release Lacrosse Balls – sold for the low price of $15.99 for the set of two. I have this set at home and, no lie, it’s one of my most prized possessions.
Get your stretch on
Stretching is probably the most timeless item on this list of post-exercise rituals. And with good reason: stretching after a workout not only leaves your limbs feeling fantastically relaxed, but it also improves flexibility and range of motion and can help prevent injuries. It also increases blood and nutrient flow to the muscles.
While stretching is a fairly familiar concept, there’s actually more to dissect than you might think. There are actually many different types of stretching, including static stretching, dynamic stretching, ballistic stretching, myofascial release, and more! Each stretching variant offers its own benefits for stiff muscles.
While muscle rolling is a close second, my own personal favorite brand of stretching is those long, static holds, like with restorative yoga poses where you rest in a stretch for anywhere from two to ten minutes at a time.
This form of static stretching works using autogenic inhibition, which allows a muscle to relax after being held in a taut, stretched position for a certain duration of time. This is because something called the golgi tendon organ senses muscle tension and exertion and activates to avoid injury during strain. And boy, when that relaxation reflex is triggered – it feels amazing, like your blood flow is rinsing tension out of the muscles.
If this sounds like something for you, try out one of my favorite free, online yoga classes that targets tension in the hips and lower back. Be aware that a surprising emotional reaction may follow deep hip stretching – and be sure to drink lots of water to hydrate your freshly stretched ligaments!
CBD – duh
You didn’t think we’d get through this list without touting good ol’ CBD, did you?
Because of its impact on the endocannabinoid system, which is considered a major regulatory system, CBD is a great choice for general wellness.
Bluebird’s new Hemp Sport CBD lotion features full-spectrum hemp extract blended with arnica, mint, ginger, jojoba, and coconut oil. Why not spread some love onto your skin as part of your new ayurvedic self-massage practice?