Learn to unwind like Simone Biles (because you totally deserve a gold medal for crushing that workout)


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Photo: Getty Images/Valerie Macon; Graphic: Well+Good Creative

Clear your calendar. The summer Olympics will be here before you know it. In the meantime, between press junkets and rigorous workouts, athletes ramping up for an opportunity to win Olympic gold are also considering the importance of cooling down. A prime example of elite athleticism, gymnast Simone Biles, who turns 21 on March 14, is focused on thoughtful recovery as she prepares for Tokyo 2020.

I caught up with Biles in Paris at the unveiling of the Women’s World Cup national team soccer kits. The new uniforms will dot the field when the tournament returns this summer. As a gymnast, Biles is united with the athletes of all types on the heels of a landmark women-driven Nike Just Do It campaign. (Seriously, you need to watch it because it will give you all the feels).

“It was very empowering to see all the ladies out there taking such strong strides and having confidence—even when we’re speaking out—knowing that we can do anything that the male athletes can do and more,” Biles tells me.

Biles’ efforts to change the sport of gymnastics are equally remarkable. She earned four gold medals and a single bronze at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janiero. She’s since proved unstoppable, performing never-been-done-before vaults and can’t-believe-your-eyes tumbling routines. Her workouts are no joke and neither is her recovery routine.

“I love doing massages because it’s also relaxing and usually I fall asleep,” says Biles. And while a massage might be out of reach after every sweat session, the Olympic athlete reaches for the next best thing: The Theragun, which she uses regularly in recovery, with varying techniques to address specific recovery needs. “There are different heads so it depends on what spot or how I’m feeling or how sore I am, but I love that thing!” she says. “It’s a life changer.”

Apart from percussion therapy and massage, which, dare I say, are the ultimate forms of recovery, she also plays with temperature. “We have ice tubs and hot tubs, and then sometimes we use sports trainers,” she says, adding that she hasn’t tried cryotherapy but it’s on her list. “It just depends what your recovery looks like. Mine’s a little bit different I don’t really like the ice tub, I feel like heat works better.” So whether you’re chilling out or heating things up to cool down, know that recovery is among the most important things you can do for yourself. And even though it takes an extra 15 or 30 from your day, just do it.

Okay, so the Theragun has honestly gotten so much quieter, which is a welcome change. Plus, here’s what happened when one writer went on a recovery retreat (spoiler: it was awesome).

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