It’s here! It’s finally here! Football season is upon us and if you’re anything like, well, most of America, you couldn’t be more excited. Whether you’re a youth, high school, college, semi-pro, professional, or even a flag football weekend warrior, football season is something that you’ve likely been looking forward to for months. The absolute last thing that you want during the season that you’ve waited so long for is to have it end in injury. While football injuries definitely aren’t completely avoidable, there are things that can be done to help avoid them, such as a good active recovery program.
Whether on your own or with your team, adding active recovery to your workouts and workout plan is extremely important to rid your muscles of toxins, lactic acid, and help them to repair after strenuous workouts. One of the easiest ways to become injured is to forget about helping your muscles recover.
So, what exactly is active recovery?
Active recovery is the process of engaging in low-intensity exercises both directly following a strenuous workout and even on non-workout days. As a rule of thumb, your active recovery session should be performed at no more than 60-70% of your maximum heart rate (as a football player). This isn’t a workout to promote gains, strength, or growth. It’s meant as an opportunity to allow your muscles to recover from your workout our previous workouts.
After a tough workout, it’s considered a cool down. It helps you to avoid building up extra lactic acid, soreness, and tightness in your muscles. While you may just want to get out of the gym or off the field after a tough workout, taking a little bit of time to allow your muscles to cool down lets your muscles recover and will make all the difference the next day and throughout your season.
How can you incorporate it into your routine?
During your season, you’re likely in the gym or on the field at least five times per week. Your body is taking a beating each and every day and you are likely becoming used to the feeling of being sore.
The best way to incorporate active recovery into your routine is to really embrace it. Treat is as part of your routine, not as an extra piece added to the end of your routine. It’s just as important as your workout is.
We recommend adding a fifteen minute cool down active recovery session at the end of any workout, whether that is in the gym or on the practice or game field. You are likely exhausted at this time, but another fifteen minutes is only going to make you feel better in the morning and keep you fresh throughout the season.
On non-workout days, we recommend doing some sort of active recovery. We know, during your season you likely want nothing to do with anything physical on your off days, but remember, it’s not a strenuous activity. You’re only looking at about 60% effort here. Take a half hour out of your day to get your blood flowing and heart rate up a little bit. It will be worth it in the end.
PRO TIP: You’ve got to plan your active recovery sessions just as you would a your workouts. If you don’t have it planned, it won’t happen. Set aside time on each of your non-workout days to get your blood flowing a bit.
So what activities should you do for active recovery?
There are plenty of options out there to incorporate active recovery into your routine and really there is no perfect answer. It can be anything from a brisk jog, a few laps in a pool, the elliptical, a bike ride around the city, or even going up and down the stairs at your apartment a few times.
We personally like the activities like swimming that will engage more of your muscles at once. This will help promote healing and recovery throughout your body, not just in your legs.
We want you to have a successful and injury-free season which is why we’ve developed our Staying on the Field: 7 Tips to Prevent Injuries eBook. Inside you’ll also find five stretching mistakes you’re probably making, products to help support recovery, additional quick tips, and even a study performed by Runner’s World. Download it now, and go chase that championship!