After a hard workout or training session, it would seem that complete rest would be the best way to encourage recovery… However, research proves many advantages in active recovery.
What is active recovery?
Active recovery is a workout session that is less intense and has less volume than any of the other sessions you do and is specifically designed to help reduce physical and mental fatigue.
The Purpose of Recovery
The purpose of recovery is to allow the muscle to repair itself and to engage muscles that are tired or sore from a previous day, intense training or competition.
It is common to feel less energetic and sore the day after your workout, race, or game, but passive recovery isn’t recommended unless you are injured. Instead, it is recommended to do some light physical activity. This can be walking, easy jogging, easy cycling or mobility exercises. Massage can also be used as part of active recovery.
Active recovery helps mobilize the joints, which need to move through their range of motion to be lubricated. It also gets the blood flowing through your muscles, which helps bring them nutrients to build new muscle as well as helping to carry away waste products.
During an active recovery day, you don’t want to engage in activities that challenge the muscles used the day before. Instead, aim for doing lighter activities.
Science to back this up
There are hundreds of studies that underpin Active Recovery. One study1 published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise found that active recovery immediately after the event encourages recovery and reduces muscle lactate levels faster than complete rest.
What we do on Recovery Days
The point of a recovery day is to recover from your training in not only the physical aspect, but also as a much-needed mental break.
Active recovery focuses on completing a workout at a low intensity, but just high enough that it gets the blood moving and helps reduce residual fatigue in the muscle. One of the best activities towards recovering is swimming. A relaxing swimming session and a cool / cold shower after, may help the muscles stretch, relax and recover. Another study2 showed that a swimming based recovery session enhanced following day exercise performance, possibly due to the hydrostatic properties of water.
To help you stay motivated and consistent on an Active Wellness lifestyle, here are some tips:
1. Eat healthy carbs a couple of hours before strenuous activities to keep your body warm and energetic. This also helps prevent fatigue.
2. Set exercise / weight goals and write them down.
3. Reward yourself periodically as you achieve your goals, but not with food, so you don’t associate pleasure only with edible treats.
4. Wear the KenkoTherm DUK® Tape, which may help your muscles and joints stay warm and supported.
5. Massage your tired muscles with the Kenkotouch®, a device designed to help promote relaxation and relief.
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