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In the 360Wellness Mobile Application, you can keep track of your recovery time thanks to its integrated tracker. Contrary to what some may think, recovery doesn’t only mean sleep and time away from our phone/laptop screens. It also entails other activities that contribute to our ‘me’ time and promote relaxation of our muscles. The following three techniques are just some of the recovery methods that may help your overall well-being when you’re not exercising or working.
Aromatherapy is one way to heal your body through plant extracts and therefore enabling an overall feeling of recovery. The plant extracts are also known as essential oils, which derive from plants through various methods to transfer the aromatic properties to an oil. Thanks to aromatherapy, these oils then interact with our body by either inhaling them or by being diluted and then absorbed through our skin. There are various ways through which aromatherapy can occur, like using essential oils with diffusers or mixing them with body products (eg. lotions, creams, oils).
Aromatherapy’s origin is disputed as it has ties to the history of different countries, especially Egypt, China and India. In Egypt, oils were used primarily by priests who had roles in religious and magical rituals. Essential oils became also widely used thanks to their essential part played in ayurvedic medicine, like when massages involve these aromatic plant extracts. Some of the aromas were popular, like rose for reducing depression and helping the liver, chamomile for headaches and cold-like symptoms.
Essential oils were also seen useful when diseases were studied in France in the 1800s and scientists discovered their antibacterial properties. One of the studies at the time proved that these oils helped eliminate the microorganisms of diseases such as yellow fever. Among the oils studied there were Chinese cinnamon and geranium.
Furthermore, in the 1900s Rene Gattefosse also used the lavender essential oil for himself after suffering from serious burns on his hand following an incident at the laboratory whilst discovering some of its advantages. He then incorporated essential oils when curing wounds for their disinfectant properties when medicating soldiers coming from the battlefield of World War I. The scientist is believed to be the first using the term ‘aromatherapy’, in which he also based his book Gattefosse’s Aromatherapy published in 1993.
When essential oils are inhaled they can affect us on different levels: physically, emotionally and spiritually. The aromatic particles of oils when entering our body through our respiratory system, can come through our nose and from there stimulate our nerves connected to the limbic section of the brain. This area has multiple functions and is associated with our nervous and immune systems along with our feelings and sensations.
There is a wide variety of essential oils and amongst the most popular ones there is eucalyptus, which helps with energy levels, relieve flu symptoms, ginger to reduce inflammations and physical pain, lavender which is useful for insect bites and to tackle anxiety. If you are interested in knowing some of the properties of specific essential oils the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) provides a detailed list.
Electrostimulation consists of small electrical pulses that imitate those signals originating from neurons which are a part of our nervous system. This therapy can either target muscles or nerves. When thinking about muscles, electrostimulation helps make them contract. After contracting muscles a number of times, the circulation of blood in that area will improve and therefore help your muscles recover faster. It can also be beneficial in building strength.
Electrostimulation works through small adhesive pads, called electrodes, that you place on your skin. More than one electrode is usually applied to the body area of interest and wires connect them to the main device. This will then provide a steady flow of electrical pulses and therefore cause your targeted muscles to contract.
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at hundreds of previous studies and the effectiveness of electrostimulation and then designed its own research to evaluate this claim. It selected 3 different types of subjects depending on their level of fitness: untrained, trained and athletes. It also conducted the study based on different electrostimulation approaches. One was the local electrostimulation, which targeted specific muscles, the whole-body one, which activates different muscles across the body simultaneously, and the combination method, which is a mixture of local and whole body electrostimulation.
The experiment revealed that electrostimulation was useful for improving physical performance. It also showed that this was not only applicable to untrained individuals, but it improved strength levels in subjects who have been training consistently for a long time. As a result, electrostimulation can be seen as effective in recovering muscles and improving your fitness performance.
Tai chi is a type of exercise that takes inspiration from martial arts and consists of slow movements and deep breathing. It originates back to the 13th-century in China and today is popular worldwide for its multiple health benefits. For example, it’s proved to help relieve stress-related emotions, like depression and anxiety, and promote relaxation thanks to its slow movements and breathing techniques. A study from the Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry supports this as it compared different previous studies with a variety of subjects involved, like individuals with a sedentary lifestyle, those who had clinical depression as well as young people with disorders affecting their mental health.
Furthermore, a 2018 study from the Journal of Neuroimaging focused on the effects of Tai Chi by enrolling six healthy elderly individuals in a 12-week Tai Chi programme. They compared their notes before and after the programme was completed and found that this martial exercise can help generate new neurons and protect some of these cells from specific aging processes. Besides this they also concluded that muscles recovered significantly quicker after the 12-week Tai Chi training.