Whether we are athletes, regular exercisers, weekend warriors, or new to exercise, a majority of us have felt sore, sluggish, or even stiff after a work-out. Each of these experiences may occur hours or even days after we exercise. To help eliminate some of these experiences, those who exercise should partake in active recovery. Active recovery is a method of movement that promotes recouping from strenuous exercise. This method involves low intensity exercise and some stretching. In contrast, passive recovery includes being inactive and a bit more sedentary. I can recall many instances where I came home after an intense soccer practice, physically exhausted and sore, and did not want to leave the couch. Although rest is important, a sedentary lifestyle is not ideal, especially when you are sore! Below are a few active recovery methods that will help relieve post-workout soreness.
Examples of active recovery exercises include:
- Foam rolling
- Massage (self or professional)
- Light mobility exercises that help move thru a full ROM (range of motion) using own body weight such as light swimming/water therapy, light cycling, light walking and dynamic stretching.
What makes active recovery beneficial?
- It can be a low cost method of intervention
- Increases and enhances blood flow and circulation to the muscles and joints (muscles and joints love blood flow and circulation!)
- Aids in lactic acid removal from the body
- Helps reduce the amount of soreness
Recovery in general helps the body repair damaged tissues, allowing the body adapt to the stresses of exercise. So please, go ahead and try some of the examples of active recovery. Do so without having to challenge your muscles and joints.; your body will thank you in return!
–TiKi Walker, Exercise Physiologist at Dedham Health