Those who have made fitness one of their core focuses in life are constantly seeking different ways to push their body to new limits. When exercising starts to max out the body, though, it’s time for some crucial rest.
There are a number of great ways to recover from a workout including active recovery, which is ideal for those of you who can’t sit still, like to keep the momentum going, or like to prioritize staying limber. Active recovery involves engaging in low-intensity exercises or activities after intense physical exertion. The three main goals of this approach are to promote healing, reduce muscle soreness, and aid overall recovery (without adding more stress to the body).
Active recovery can take many forms, including activities like walking, cycling, or light stretching, all of which boost blood flow to the muscles. This aids in flushing out metabolic waste products from vigorous exercise. On top of that, these activities go a long way to help maintain flexibility and prevent muscle and joint stiffness.
As a concept, active recovery challenges the idea that complete rest is always the best way to recover. Instead, with a little movement you can enhance circulation, deliver more nutrients to your muscles, and still support tissue repair and growth.
The hard and fast rule here is to keep the intensity and duration of active recovery exercises low so that you’re not actually working your body like you normally would when training. You should put considerable thought into which activities you choose and base their selection on your overall level of fitness and how you prefer to move, while also factoring in your last intense workout and your overall training regimen.
The benefits of active recovery for athletic performance are numerous:
When to choose active recovery versus passive recovery depends on various factors, including training intensity, fitness goals, health, and personal response to recovery methods. Active recovery can be suitable after moderate workouts, between intense training sessions, when dealing with injury prevention, when maintaining a certain fitness level, and for psychological benefits. Passive recovery is more appropriate after high-intensity workouts, during injury or illness, in cases of overtraining or fatigue, for deep sleep and regeneration, or when tapering for competition. Some individuals may benefit from a combination of both strategies, alternating as needed.
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