If you’re like most people, you probably think of recovery as a time to relax and take it easy. If you’re an athlete, however, you probably think of recovery as a time to help your body repair, rebuild, and replenish.
Active recovery is just what it sounds like: light activity that helps the body recover from more intense activity. For athletes and individuals who work out, it can help improve performance and prevent injuries.
Active recovery can take many forms, but in simple terms, it is basically a form of “low level” exercise. It should put very little stress on joints, muscles, and tendons, while putting a “comfortable” amount of stress on the cardiovascular system.
One of the purposes of active recovery is to help the body repair itself and become stronger, while also promoting blood flow to muscles. Active recovery helps remove lactic acid from muscles, which can prevent soreness and improve range of motion. It also helps flush out toxins that can build up in muscles after intense exercise.
Active Recovery for Athletes
Active recovery is especially important for athletes who are regularly subjected to physical stress. Whether you’re a professional athlete or simply enjoy playing sports recreationally, engaging in regular active recovery can help you stay healthy and perform at your best.
Active recovery has many potential benefits for athletes: reducing lactic acid buildup in muscles, eliminating toxins, maintaining muscle flexibility, reducing soreness, increasing blood flow, and maintaining exercise routines. For athletes, all of these things can help improve performance.
In one study, for example, active recovery was effective in reducing participants’ fatigue from evaluated leg muscles, where a significant decrease in fatigue index was observed. On the other hand, muscles peak torque, work and power parameters saw significant decreases following passive recovery. The findings of this study suggest that active recovery is more effective than passive recovery in reducing fatigue while still allowing athletes to maintain their performance levels.
Keeping the Body Moving
One of the key things active recovery does is help keep the body moving. When you stop moving after a hard workout, your muscles start to tighten up and you’re at risk for getting injured.
That’s why active recovery is an important part of a training program. It keeps the body “loose” and limber, and it helps speed up the recovery process so you can get back to your workouts sooner.
Importantly, active recovery also helps athletes maintain their exercise routines. By continuing to engage in light physical activity, athletes can reduce lactic acid buildup in muscles and promote overall fitness.
There are all sorts of ways to incorporate active recovery into your routine. You can do some light aerobic exercise, like walking or biking; or you can do some stretching or yoga. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something your body can handle without putting too much stress on your muscles.
With active recovery, as with any form of exercise, it’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard—take things slow at first. You can gradually increase the intensity of your active recovery activities as your body becomes more accustomed to them. Always consult with a qualified health professional before attempting any active recovery exercises on your own.
The Bottom Line
Active recovery can be a great way to help the body recover from intense exercise while also promoting overall fitness. If you’re an athlete, incorporating active recovery into your routine can help you stay healthy—and operate at peak performance.
If you’re looking for a way to kickstart your body’s healing process—and keep your body moving—active recovery may be just what you need. Just be sure to listen to your body and consult with a medical professional if you have any injuries.
At Continuum Health Centre, we support active recovery by promoting mobility exercises, a full range of motion, and increasing blood flow through an entire muscle set. Enhancing blood flow to muscles surrounding a joint is imperative to expedient recovery.
With this in mind, each of our practitioners emphasize optimal care to refrain from overloading targeted muscle groups. As such, the majority of mobility exercises employed require minimal to no-load and are performed using minimal bodyweight. Contact Continuum Health Centre today, or click to book an appointment with one of our practitioners online.