Proper Recovery is an Essential Part of Training
I’m guessing by now, you should all know the importance of physical activity and daily exercising (if not please read our previous blogs!), but we have to remember that having proper recovery strategies is also an essential part of movement and training.
When we hear the word recovery in relation to training or exercising, we often think of a cool-down period after working out, which may involve stretching or foam rolling. Then when I ask people “what do you do for recovery?” or “how much time do you spend on stretching or cooling down after a workout?”, the most common responses I get are “very little” and “I don’t have time”. While I understand the focus of performing the core movements of your session, whether it is lifting weights or running on a treadmill, the recovery component is just as important. Research shows that recovery also requires training. If the rate of recovery is appropriate, higher training volumes and intensities are possible without the detrimental effects of over-training.
Recovery is much more than stretching and foam rolling. There are two main components of recovery: regeneration, which is an active component, and rest, which is a passive component. Regeneration strategies include massage (self massage or with a massage therapist/physiotherapist), static and dynamic stretching, hydrotherapy, and active rest (low intensity of aerobic exercise). Rest strategies include adequate and quality sleep, nutrition, and psychological unload (meditation and breathing techniques). The combination of all these factors allow our body to unwind, decrease stress (both physically and mentally), and ultimately recover for our next session of movement and training.
There’s one question people ask a lot as well: do I have to stretch on days when I don’t work out? The answer is yes! Obviously after a movement session, it is very important to stretch and unwind to prevent over-training, but having a dedicated day for active recovery is very important as well! In fact, athletes who undergo vigorous training dedicate multiple days to recovery, and sometimes have recovery WEEKS to allow their body to recover.