ACTIVE RECOVERY DAY:

WHAT IT IS AND WHY DO YOU NEED IT?

Picture this: you’re horizontal on your lounge, binge-watching your favourite series. Sounds like the perfect rest day, right?

 

Resting like this might seem like the perfect reward the day after a high-intensity workout, but research shows that you recover faster and feel better if you opt for an active recovery day instead.

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WHAT IS ACTIVE RECOVERY?

Active recovery is about recovering from your higher intensity workouts with a low-intensity activity. 

 

Low-intensity could include activities like a Yin class, a walk, a swim or even a foam roller stretch session!

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WHY DO WE DO ACTIVE RECOVERY?

This type of recovery helps to avoid burnout and injuries from over-training and helps your muscles recover by reducing lactic acid build up so you can perform better in your next workout.

THERE ARE 3 TYPES OF ACTIVE RECOVERY:

  1. Between sets (during interval training)

  2. On your off day

  3. Cool down after class

ACTIVE RECOVERY BETWEEN SETS (during interval training)

Trainers aim to get your body burning calories as efficiently as possible with minimal risk.

To do this, we utilise active recovery in our workouts to keep you moving consistently throughout the class and balance high-intensity drills with mobility.

 

These recovery exercises like cat stretches and roll downs are proven to help you perform for longer bursts of time without fatigue. It also helps prevent plateauing results from your body “getting used” to your workout regime.

 

Playing with work/rest ratios keeps your body guessing and burning calories efficiently.

 

Linking your active recovery drill as a setup or directly after your drill is also known as counter pose. For example, your setup for a plank might be a thread the needle, to mobilise the thoracic and the shoulder joints which then results in loading them safely in the plank. After a set of ab curls, performing a swan dive/upward facing dog helps to release the abdominals and move the spine out of that flexed pose into extension.

ACTIVE RECOVERY ON YOUR DAY OFF 

There’s no doubt about it, that post-exercise high is super addictive. For anyone with limited time, it is also sometimes the only bit of “you time” that we allow ourselves. It’s important to move 7 days a week, but also to vary between high, moderate and low-intensity workouts.

 

A balance of low, moderate, and high-intensity workouts will prevent plateau and burnout, which often happens with predominantly high-intensity training programs.

 

These kinds of programs lack the recovery aspect you need to stay injury-free, physically and mentally strong and continuously kicking your goals.

 

In order for our bodies to perform at their best, we need a full active recovery day.

ACTIVE RECOVERY AS A COOL DOWN AFTER CLASS 

A cool down is just as important as a warm up. It usually takes 5-10mins and is crucial to maintaining your workout regime and training WELL. 

 

We recommend rolling out or stretching after class to cool down. This helps prevent injury, reduces lactic acid, minimises the effect of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and helps you perform better in your next session.

TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AN ACTIVE RECOVERY:

​1. YIN YOGA

 Yin Yoga involves holding poses for long periods of time (up to 5 minutes) to enhance mental wellbeing and awareness. This is sometimes the most challenging for those who love high intensity, but provides the most benefit with the change in pace.

 

The physical benefits of this practice are increasing circulation, releasing the fascia, particularly around the hips and lower parts of the body, improving flexibility and joint mobility. Yin also has mental benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety.

​2. MYOFASCIAL RELEASE

I am constantly reminding our Lofties to “roll out their bums!”. With training comes tension, and myofascial release (‘rolling out’) is a beneficial way to bounce back from a hardcore workout more quickly. It increases blood flow in muscles and brings fascia back to its optimum malleable, slippery state.

 

Rolling out doesn’t have to go for hours, in fact, we should do it for about 20mins tops. Even rolling out for just 5 minutes after a workout will make a huge difference to your recovery.

 

There are plenty of really great fascial rolling tools such as foam rollers, lacrosse balls and massage sticks – I have even been known to use a can of hairspray backstage.

​3. STRETCH

Stretching is something I recommend post-workout only. Stretching is a really beneficial part of any workout regime, but if performed at the wrong time it can significantly and negatively affect your performance during training.

 

It can take more than an hour to regain muscle capacity to jump and move quickly after stretching. 

 

Stretching is designed to increase flexibility, balance out the HIIT/toning aspect of working out, and to help muscles recover. So yes, stretching is amazing, but only after a workout.

 

Move slowly, don’t bounce into a stretch and aim to hold each stretch for 60 seconds, focusing on breath and easing deeper into the stretch slowly.

​4. GOING FOR A WALK

Getting outside is so beneficial for your mind and body. Using walking as your active recovery is great as it maintains your workout regime. Moving consistently is where results happen and last!

 

Maximise your walk by doing some grounding while you’re at it. Grounding is a great way to get in touch with the earth (barefoot), re-centering your mind and connecting to your environment. Benefits include decreasing your stress response, improving your mood and it has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health. Again, mental and physical benefits make this a win-win for an active recovery day activity.

​5. SWIMMING

Different strokes for different folks? Yep. Swimming is where low impact, cardio, stretching and toning meet recovery.

 

On your active recovery day, taking a dip is beneficial to your mental health. The deep controlled breath partnered with long stretching strokes stimulates the brain to release endorphins (the feel good hormones) that relieve stress.

 

The buoyancy of the water removes all load, so this workout allows you to add spikes of high intensity without adding impact!

 

 

So, by recovering actively, you are reducing fatigue, preventing over-training and increasing blood flow to your muscles and joints between higher intensity workouts. This is a proven way to enhance performance and to achieve the physical benefits of your training regime.