As we get into the full swing of the warmer time of year, running becomes a go-to for a lot of individuals to get their cardio in. Just as we’ve discussed in the past where the method of warming up the body is important, the method of rest and cool-down periods are important as well. Rest isn’t just the time between your workouts, it’s the time during your workouts in between the act of “doing” the exercise. For example, interval running can help increase stamina and provide the body with a way to “work up to” running goals, and those seconds when not running are rest, and that rest time can be used to its fullest capacity when done with intention.
Sticking with this example, when we stop running and walk for our rest period during interval running, the muscles are warm and primed for “re-programming.” Our habitual posture tends to kick in when we are tired, and when in the walking phase of interval running, it's easy to let the body collapse back into old habits. However, if we take advantage of our body’s warmed up state and focus on proper alignment in our posture while walking/standing, we can help re-teach the contraction and release relationship of our muscles. If you tend towards collapsing in the chest with the shoulders rounding like I do, focusing on getting those shoulder blades back and down on the back and lifting the chest in those rest periods. This can put the muscles in proper alignment as they cool down, helping to keep those muscles from contracting back into the tightness that causes the pulling and collapse, and strengthen the weaker muscles to help hold the body in that proper posture.
This concept can be applied during resistance training as well, or any time there is rest in your exercise. Rest is where the change happens, and those little periods of rest create change that can be used to your advantage when done mindfully. Old habits are hard to break, and re-training the body requires attention during those important periods of change. View rest as an opportunity, not just as a passive phase.