When’s the last time you’ve plopped in the tub for a nice bubble bath? My guess is not in a very long time. When’s the last time you sat in complete silence, focusing only on your breath without any distraction? I’ve got a hunch that you can’t even remember or possibly never. Baths are time consuming; requiring set up and chunks of time that we may not think we have. Truth is, there are some tremendous benefits to taking a good soak. Whether you are recovering from a grueling workout or a long workday, taking a bath has many benefits.
Those adults that have participated in my Boostfit classes know that I have added in a “Mindset and Breathing” component at the conclusion of each workout. Taking just a few minutes to relax and practice diaphragmatic breathing has an incredible effect on recovery. These breaths work to suppress the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which triggers a stress response when the body perceives a threat, such as a hard workout. Chronic hyper-activation of the SNS can lead to system breakdown, resulting in anxiety, heart disease, immune system dysfunction, gastrointestinal stress, and more. Taking just a few moments to kick your legs up and focus solely on your breath, helps reset the nervous system and foster recovery within the body and mind.
Now, bath time! Ideally, I suggest taking a bath a few hours after training, just before bed, when the meat of your recovery happens. This may also increase the quality of your sleep, which will subsequently increase recovery. Here are two tips for the ultimate experience for relaxation and recovery.
- Add 2 cups of Epsom salts. Epsom salt is a pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate. Soaking for 15 minutes in warm water will allow your skin to absorb depleted magnesium levels from intense training, thus reducing inflammation and help you recovery quickly.
- Add 10-15 drops of essential oil. Lavender and peppermint are my favorites and are great for reducing muscle soreness. Adding these to your bath will increase blood circulation and reduce stress, while also putting off a pleasant aroma while you are soaking.
Making time for both breathing and bathing can make a huge impact on your recovery. Soak it all in!