When it comes to maximizing your results and training potential, recovery is as important as your time in the gym or on the field. Just ask any trainer, coach or athlete! They will definitely agree that recovery is a crucial component of keeping your body in peak performance shape and in minimizing the chances of injury. But the word “recovery” doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to (or should) take a day off from training. That’s where active recovery comes in.
What is active recovery?
Active recovery refers to engaging in low-intensity exercise for the purpose of recovering from high-intensity training sessions. A low-intensity exercise is any workout performed at up to 60-70% of your maximum heart rate if you are an athlete (or 40-60% of your maximum heart rate if you aren’t). A low-intensity workout should also take no more than 30-40 minutes and leave you feeling energized rather than exhausted.
It should not be done in order to improve gains, instead the role of active recovery is to allow your muscles to recover from previous training sessions.
Why is it important?
The theory behind active recovery is that low-intensity activity actually helps blood circulation that, in turn, helps remove lactic acid from your muscles. The improved circulation of lymph and blood through the day also helps ensure better delivery of oxygen and nutrients to cells and, therefore, faster recovery of damaged tissues. It also has been shown to relieve stress and tension and enhance your mood.
In addition to being widely accepted by athletes around the world, research is being conducted to prove whether active recovery is beneficial. Early studies point in the direction of active rest being beneficial. Consider the following:
- A study conducted by Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, found that active recovery encouraged lactic acid removal and helped speed recovery.
- Another study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that adding low intensity exercise to the rest period after competition did not decrease an athlete’s physical recovery and actually had positive effects on psychological recovery by improving relaxation.
Although it is incredibly important to ensure your body receives adequate rest and recovery in order to repair muscles so you can keep training that does not mean that you have to spend your entire recovery day on the couch. Incorporating active recovery days into your training plan can actually aid your muscle recovery and improve your overall health and wellness.
Stay tuned for future posts where we will address how to practice active recovery and provide some options for you to try out!
Active recovery is just one way to help keep you in peak performance shape and minimize the risks of injury. For additional tips to help keep you in training shape download our FREE Quick Blueprint to Fast Healing from Any Muscle Pull eBook!