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Active Recovery: Healing on the Go

Exercise; it’s great for us but also puts a severe amount of strain on the body. Prolonged periods of exercise can cause chronic overuse injuries such as strains, tendonitis, bursitis, and stress fractures. Over time these injuries can lead to a decrease in performance or, even worse, time missed from the gym. One way to help reduce damage to the body and decrease time to recovery is using Active Recovery (AR). AR is different from rest in that, while resting there is no work at all (i.e. sleep), and AR involves working the afflicted muscles, but only at a rate of about 50-70% of max effort. AR should be done on “off days” or days where motivation to exercise is lacking.

AR Benefits:

  • Reduces the impact of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
  • Helps the Body Heal and Repair
    • Increases Blood Flow to Muscles
    • Increases Nutrients to Muscles
    • Triggers Hormones that Stimulate Muscle Repair
  • Boosts the Immune System
    • High-Intensity exercise increases stress hormone level, AR reduces those levels
  • Increases Mood
    • AR stimulates endorphin release and helps one feel better about exercise

Examples of AR:

  • Streching
    • Dynamic: stretching with movement/bodyweight movements that mimic load-bearing exercises
    • Static: holding the stretch for a period of 20-30 seconds
    • Band-assisted stretching
  • Yoga/Pilates
  • Pool Work/Rowing
  • Body weight and/or light stretching exercises such as Chest Flyes using a suspension system
    • Higher rep range
    • No weights
    • Google or Youtube for examples
  • Foam Rolling/Myofascial Release
  • Massage/Acupuncture/Cupping
  • Walking/Hiking Outside

As you can see, Active Recovery serves as an extremely beneficial tool in any fitness regimen. Incorporating AR once a week will not only help you heal faster, decrease DOMS, and increase your mood, but it will also help you come out stronger and more prepared to tackle your next big workout. Try it out and see how you feel.

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