Sunday Story…Active Recovery
We know to eat right, get lots of sleep, and work out. You are on your way to being more, to being the person you were designed to be. There is another element that is too often neglected on our way to being a better athlete: Recovery
Although recovery is considered part of rest it should be treated as thing in and of itself. The purpose of recovery is to allow the muscle to repair itself and to use muscles that are tired or sore from a previous day or period or hard training. In general, active recovery is defined by feeling better after exercising than before you started.
When we talk about active recovery we are talking about engaging in low intensity exercise after workouts. There are two different things here: one is immediately after you finish a cool down phase after a hard effort. The second is in the days after a competition or workout, a day of “rest”.
This is not the rest where we lay on the couch, watch TV and eat chips. This is the rest we call active recovery. Here are 5 things you can and should do regularly to recover.
Self-Myofascial release (SMR)—Foam rolling is one form, using a lacrosse ball or other specialty tools in an effort to massage the muscles. We are trying to increase our range of motion, decrease tone in over-active muscles, and release adhesions in the muscle tissues. Hit all the major muscle groups, avoid joints and bony areas. If you find a trouble spot hang out with those areas a little longer. You should feel better after doing this.
Walking—burn some calories, get outside and connect with the world around you. There is something else besides the gym!
Hiking, Swimming, Biking—all 3 of these should be tempered by your current fitness level. Keep it slow and keep it enjoyable.
Yoga—moving slowly through a range of motion, being in connection with your body and breathing deeply is very restorative.
Play—get out and play a game for fun. No keeping score, no going all out, no intensity, just play.
A large part of this is the mental recovery from hard, intense training. Letting your mind reconnect to your body in a non-competitive atmosphere and being around people and places that are different than your usual will re-energize your training time.
Active rest will allow you to recover and maintain your fitness level. Just like when we eat dessert without guilt we need to walk or ride or relax without a clock or set outcome…just being human from time to time will allow you to be a better, faster, stronger athlete both physically and mentally.
So get out and rest…Do it now!
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