Effective Training

Active Recovery: Making The Most of Rest Day

Written By: Kripa Jalan

Active Recovery: Making The Most of Rest Day

Rest is for the weak?

Well, not really.

When you train, you pretty much always break down muscle mass.

When you rest and recover, you rebuild it.

Without adequate rest, the body will continuously break down precious muscle mass. 

So, the quicker and more efficiently we can recover, the sooner we can spur progress.

When someone doesn’t recover adequately, performance and health can suffer. Many people describe it as “hitting a wall.” Many exercisers refer to it as “overtraining.” 

Fatigue can signal that recovery wasn’t adequate.

It’s safe to say that recovery is just as important as training. But, taking a rest day seems like a nightmare to most fitness enthusiasts,

Truth is we can benefit from daily exercise. The trick lies in the dosage.

That’s where active recovery comes in.

What is active recovery?

It focuses on engaging in movement at an intensity that’s low, but just high enough to get the blood moving and reduce residual fatigue in the muscle.

Here context matters. Say you’re a marathon runner. You’re accustomed to running long distances at a definite pace, on your training days. In that context, a light jog on non-training days would do no harm. As long as it makes you feel better.

Here are some of our favourites:

  • Self-Myofascial release – Foam rollers and lacrosse balls. These are devices used to massage our muscles. These help tame overactive muscles, reduce stiffness, provide temporary pain relief and even improve range of motion.
  • Walking/Hiking/Cycle – More than the burning calorie bit, these activities are a great way to be outside and promote mental and physical wellness. Not every workout will kick our butt. But they should be tailored to our current fitness levels. Say you’re an avid runner, a hike would be a great way to spend an off day. However, if the majority of your training comprises light jogging, a walk would be more appropriate.
  • Technique Work– Go after a movement, which you have been struggling with. It could be handstand push-ups or snatches. Grab some super lightweight and get after it.
  • Swimming – This is one activity that engages the muscular and cardiovascular systems simultaneously. Moreover, it’s a low-stress activity, which is likely to help the process of active recovery.
  • Mobility/Yoga – In addition to being a part of our everyday regimen, we could even attribute one entire day just to mobilize our joints, after a hectic training week or 60 hours at a desk. This would work towards improving our everyday movements, and athletic performance and keeping us injury-free. 
  • Take A Fun Class – It could be that dance class you’ve been meaning to go to or that rock-climbing event you’ve been eyeing. The point is to be active, without overstraining the body. Just enjoy yourself.