It is a fundamental truth that with rigorous physical training there must also be adequate rest. Like many other active individuals, perhaps you exercise three to five times per week with two to four rest days sprinkled in between. What should you do on your days off? Well, quite frankly, do what you want! Afterall, it is your day off. However, if you are feeling particularly tight or stiff afterwards, some active recovery might be just what you need.
You may have come across this term before and are unsure what it exactly means. It helps to think of active recovery as active maintenance or active preparation. When the body is at rest, it recovers and is again ready to participate in physical activity. However, the longer the body is inactive, the tighter muscles, tendons, and joints will become. Active recovery, or purposeful, low intensity movement, will mitigate this problem by keeping the body warm enough to easily return to activity without excessive stiffness. This is especially true in the case of consecutive rest days.
The purpose of active recovery is to prepare the body for the next day’s activity, not to achieve a training stimulus. It may consist of moderately paced conditioning on a bike or rower, or lightweight functional exercises such as squats, presses and pulls. It is also a great opportunity to incorporate some targeted accessory movements. The goal is to warm up the body without adding unnecessary stress or fatigue. Give it a try and your Mondays might just get a little easier! 😉