Recovery is a topic I discuss frequently because it is the thing that allows every person to bounce back after hard training sessions, feel well rested, and ensure consistency with any exercise program. The last time I discussed recovery I talked specifically about nutrition and how to keep up with hydration, nutrient intake, and the implementation of anti-inflammatory and sulfur rich foods. This post on recovery will take a look at some modalities for exercise and movement for optimizing recovery.
How does exercise help you recovery?
The concept of using exercise to aid recovery is commonly known as active recovery, and the goal of active recovery is fairly simple: get things moving. During “recovery days” you are looking to partake in activity that will aid in your body’s repair not only of muscles, but also hormones, nervous system function, and more. The key for performing active recovery is to make sure the activity is low in intensity, but still challenges the body enough to create an increase of blood flow (which, among other things, helps to spread nutrients and enzymes responsible for remodeling, repairing, and rebuilding tissues). This increase of blood flow via active recovery also helps to:
- Remove metabolic waste from tissues
- Increase oxygen uptake by muscle
- Stimulation of parasympathetic nervous system (“Rest and digest”)
- Regulate hormone imbalances brought on by high levels of stress
- Maintain immune function
By planning specific days during the weeks of your training program to implement active recovery strategies you can avoid things like fatigue, soreness, or even the potential of overtraining. Here is some active recovery strategies you can begin to implement immediately to your training program, and all revolve around one thing: movement.
*It is ideal to spend the same amount of time in an active recovery session as you would during a regular training session (~30-60 minutes).
Next week I will discuss specific forms of exercise to help you recover....