What does the word Recovery actually mean? How do you create an effective recovery routine and why does it even matter? We’ve got the answers to these questions and more.
Anyone exercising, training, competing or just beginning to implement physical activity into their lives can benefit from a variety of recovery tools, regardless of their goals. A recovery routine can help prevent injuries, allow for cellular repair, provide a mental break, and help you become stronger, faster and more mentally and physically sound.
Before you hop into an ice bath or buy a massage gun, it’s important to understand what recovery really is. Recovery is the period of time after a workout when your gains are actually made – when you exercise, you put your body under “stress.” It’s a good type of stress, but your body still needs time to adapt to it.
It’s when all the parts of your body and mind that are stressed by exercise have a chance to repair themselves — think: muscle fibres, energy systems and even your mental stamina. What’s more, they get stronger via the repair process.
The most common form of recovery is taking time off from exercise, such as on a rest day. Some people look forward to their days off, but others find it hard to intentionally slow down. But, at the end of the day, it comes down to your individual goals and preferences. But there are some guidelines that can help you choose the number of rest days per week that feel right for you, as well as when to take them.
Your rest days are dictated by your training goals, how long you’ve been working out, fitness status, current training schedule, upcoming competitions, and the often hard to grasp concept of ‘listening to your body,’.
Unless you’re a professional athlete or have the ability to build your life around your training schedule, it may make sense to schedule your rest days on your busiest days of the week, so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
If you don’t like taking total rest days, try active recovery days; this involves low-intensity movements and activities that promote blood circulation, soreness reduction and repair of the body without taxing or stressing the tissues to the point of fatigue. That might mean taking a long walk, lightly stretching, getting a massage, or playing a low-intensity sport.
Often, a lack of motivation or concentration can be one of your body’s ways of telling you it’s time to kick up your feet for a day or two. Listen to what your body is telling you!”
Most importantly, your recovery routine should suit you, everyone trains differently: different activities, intensities and purposes. We don’t all have the same recovery needs, access to tools or injury history so make sure you take these things into consideration when developing an individualised recovery routine.
Be sure to care for your body in order to keep yourself on track – no one likes having to recover from an injury!