The Necessary Recovery Workout and Why It's Important

As an athlete growing up I only knew one thing: I needed to train as hard as I could and as much as I could to get better, faster, and stronger.  Usually by the end of 2 months (or 3), I was in better shape, but I was also worn down and just plain tired.  I always thought I had to work hard all the time to reach my goals, which is true for the majority of the time, but there's also a small portion of your weekly routine where it's necessary to slow it down and take it easy.  Over the course of the past few years of finishing my college career, being pregnant, and now having a beautiful child, I have learned the art of active recovery and why it has made reaching my goals that much easier. Who knew that resting, and resting well was actually good for your body!?

What is the purpose of active recovery?

Active recovery is meant to get your body moving just enough for you to then stretch it out and get it prepared to work hard for the next workout.  It is more than simply taking a day off, which can actually be worse than going full speed ahead!  When you take a day off and do nothing but sit and lay around, your muscles get tight and this may further any imbalances you have in your body.  Doing a hard workout the day following your rest then furthers these imbalances and creates a vicious cycle that can lead to injury. This being said, active recovery lengths your muscles, helps to diminish your imbalances and weaknesses (think correcting bad posture), and puts your body in a great position to safely crush the next workout ahead.

My Favorite Active Recovery Workout

The first part of my workout includes walking or jogging with intervals for 10 minutes.  

I decided to walk for 1 minute and jog for 2 minutes.  I did this 3 times and then walked for the last minute.

  1. Walk 1 minute, Jog 3 minutes
  2. Walk 1 minute, Jog 3 minutes
  3. Walk 1 minute, Jog 3 minutes
  4. Walk 1 minute

Notice that I did not run.  I merely jogged.  I wanted to loosen up my muscles and increase my metabolism by jogging, but I didn't not put an excessive amount of stress on my body by doing so.  

For your own intervals, the first minute should be easy.  You should be able to talk through it with no problem. 

The more intense part of your interval should be fast enough that you can talk purposefully if you wanted to. If you can't talk while you go into your higher interval then you are going too fast. 

Yoga and Stretching

For the second half of my recovery workout, I chose to do yoga.  Yoga works my muscles and also stretches them at the same time.  I completed each exercise for 45 seconds and rested for 15 seconds. 

 

1) Warrior 1 Pose

Push through your back leg, bending your knee at 90 degrees.  Keep your back straight and arms reaching up toward the ceiling.  Tighten your core and focus on deep breathing.  Do this on both sides. 

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2) Warrior 2 Pose

Push through your back leg, turn one leg and keep your hips open.  Keep your arms stretched out parallel to your hips and allow your knee to bend to close to 90 degrees.  Do this on both sides.

 

 

3) Triangle Pose

While keeping both legs straight, bring your hand down your leg to your ankle. Hold your other arm straight in the air. Do this on both sides. 

 

 

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4) Lunge

Lunge forward with one knee bent at 90 degrees and your other leg straight out behind you.  Place one hand on the ground on each side of your knee.  Complete this on both sides. 

 

5) Half Pigeon

Bring one leg in front of you, bending your knee.  Bring your other leg straight out behind you, toe pointed away from you. Keep your core tight and back as straight as you can to feel a stretch. Complete this on both sides. 

 

6) Child's Pose

On your bent knees, extend your arms all the way out in front of you.  Go as close to the ground as your body will let you.  Allow your head to relax.  If this hurts your knees, try putting something soft underneath to help.  

 

7) Child's Pose Reachers

This is the same concept as Child's pose except you will be reaching one arm all the way under your body with your palm up.  You should feel the stretch on the outside portion of your upper arm and shoulder. Complete this on both sides. 

 

Putting it All Together

Your recovery workout doesn't have to look exactly like this.  For some of you it may look like jogging for 10 minutes and stretching it out.  For others it may look like a nice walk and yoga.  Find something that you enjoy doing as a recovery workout and make sure to get that in at least once a week.  

Need help coming up with a plan or ideas for your own recovery workout?  Email us at cr3ation.fitness@gmail.com and we will be happy to help.  Until then, workout hard and rest well!