Active Recovery – Do it!
So you have just run your first half marathon, done your first Mountain Bike race or hiked up the mountain. You get home, spend the rest of the day on the couch (because you deserve it) and reckon that you are done exercising for at least a week or two.
It is a nice thought, but the LAZINESS could be prolonging that stiff sore horrible feeling that will inevitably arrive a day or two after the the activity. The dreaded DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) is one of those things that we still aren’t 100% sure of the exact cause. There are many theories but nothing concrete. When you have it though, you don’t really think about why its happening, you just want it gone. One of the easiest ways to avoid and shorten the DOMS period is to recovery properly.
So why do we need recovery?
Its really quite simple, we need to allow the body time to get back into its own rhythm after a hard workout. There is a lot that goes into creating energy for your body to use and to get the muscles working (read about fat oxidation here), so the body needs time to get itself ready for your next bout of training and to build stronger, fitter muscles.
Each time we exercise at a high intensity we cause micro myotrauma’s (say that 10 x fast I dare you). This is a natural pathway for muscle growth but we do not want to over traumatize the muscle, then the rate of growth will be less than the rate of damage. This is one of the main reasons for recovery, to allow the muscle time to repair itself. In this repair, it will form stronger, more contractile muscles. Ie. you get stronger 🙂
The point behind active recover is not to sit still and let the angry muscle stew in their own angry juices, it is to get the blood flowing nicely through the muscles, allowing all the great healing properties carried in the blood to do their work. Circulation is the key and here are a few ways to get this kick started.
So here are a few idea’s for what you can do to promote active muscle recovery:
Myofascial release – Whether you do it yourself with a foam roller, electronic massager or other specialised items, or go and see your local physio (we know a good one 😉 ) or sports masseuse. This release will help soothe the tight muscles, flush the muscles with new healing blood and by releasing the muscles this will help avoid causing injuries that come with over-training or compensation mechanisms.
Walking – It sounds silly, but get active, go for a relaxed walk with the dog or something similar, basically your aim is to get the juices flowing and some gentle movement all round.
Swimming – this is particularly good due to the weightlessness. You can have a great swimming workout engaging the muscular and cardiovascular system without added pressure on your joints. A really good one for runners.
Yoga – mobility work can be a form of active recovery that can be done every day. Typically each joint in the body is taken through a safe range of motion. Also, the added corestrength and stretching is great to avoid injuries and gain power in your chosen sport.
Cycling – like the other forms of aerobic exercise, this can be a great active recovery workout, as long as you match the intensity to your current fitness levels. So basically, take it easy, and let your legs spin out nicely.
Be smart about your RECOVERY
Recovery is the main word here, so this is NOT a training session. the aim is to get the muscles moving but not working.
So next time you have a big active weekend, try take these into account and get your body back on track for a great recovery.