There’s no denying that more and more people are stepping into fitness as a way to improve their overall health and well-being. With social media influencers and content creators democratizing knowledge regarding all things related to exercise, it’s definitely much easier to create a workout routine of your own, but one thing that is still severely overlooked is the importance of rest and recovery.
One mistake that most individuals make regardless of how far along they are in their fitness journeys is not giving their bodies enough time to repair and rejuvenate themselves. Many still believe that the best way to get impressive results is to do a workout every single day without fail, but this can lead to severe injuries. However, a great way to enjoy the best of both worlds is by engaging in active recovery.
Active recovery is an approach to rest that involves gentle movement and exercises, and it has a lot of benefits. Not only does it improve blood flow and speed up recovery, but it also works your muscles without introducing much more strain and stress. Here are some activities that you can try out!
Walking is a very low-impact exercise that also engages muscles all over your body, making it a great choice for those of you looking to give active recovery a try. The much slower and gentler pace means that your body can relax, all the while remaining active. Going for a walk can also help increase your blood circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your muscles much more efficiently.
For seasoned runners who need a day off, you can take this activity to the next level and go on a slow and light jog. While the temptation to speed up may arise occasionally, it’s important to keep it at a casual pace to prevent overexerting your muscles unnecessarily.
Whether it’s on a stationary bike or an actual bicycle, cycling can be another form of active recovery that keeps you moving without taking a toll on your leg muscles or cardiovascular system. When doing this, make sure that you keep to a low and leisurely speed to give your muscles the time they need to recover. You might find that this helps you bounce back faster as the gentle movements help flush out metabolic waste that could lead to soreness.
There’s a reason that most physical therapy and rehabilitation activities take place in water, and that’s because buoyancy helps ease the tension and strain placed on our joints and muscles, which is why you might have noticed that you weigh much less when immersed in water. This is what makes swimming a very popular active recovery activity.
The water relieves your muscles, bones, and joints and allows them to move more comfortably, all the while offering a resistance that still poses a challenge to your body. This also means that any inflammation in your body is significantly reduced and that you’re much less likely to get sore muscles.
With yoga primarily focusing on posture, flexibility, and relaxation, it’s no wonder that it’s a great pick when it comes to active recovery. Even a gentle practice can have positive effects on your body as it helps regulate the sugar levels in your blood, reduce any musculoskeletal aches and discomforts, as well as improving your posture. Contrary to popular belief, simply stretching your muscles still gently works them, while also increasing blood flow.
Another way to relax during your active recovery day is to pull out your handy foam roller and give yourself a much needed massage. Some experts believe that using a foam roller can help with tightness, soreness, and inflammation in the muscles, as well as improve range of motion.
These are only some examples of the many ways you can keep your rest days interesting and active, while also supporting muscle repair, reducing muscle soreness, and speeding up the overall recovery process. When engaging in any of these activities, it’s important to ensure that you have all the right tools and equipment to avoid worsening any discomfort.