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Does a run or gym session leave you strained? Here are 6 tips to recover like a pro

And no we don’t just recommend lying on the couch for the rest of the day.

Image: Shutterstock/baranq

ATHLETES HAVE NO problem working hard on the pitch and in the gym.

However, there comes a time when active recovery and regeneration methods actually become a training means, just like energy system development and strength training.

Think of training as a process where you withdraw money from your bank account and recovery as a period where you lodge money back in and save for a big occasion.

The bigger your bank account the more money you have to spend, and lets face it, who doesn’t like to spend money?

What is Active Recovery?

Active Recovery is simply low intensity aerobic exercise. It is generally seen as being more beneficial than passive recovery due to increased blood flow and clearance of metabolic waste products via increased oxygen delivery to the working muscles.

The aim of active recovery and regeneration is to ensure overtraining does not occur, not to “speed up” the recovery process. This is a common misconception, athletes think that the more recovery work they do, the quicker they will recover and therefore the more training they can do.

The human body is a very complex group of systems and it’s only focus is survival. Your body is capable of recovery from the stress of training on it’s own.

Using the recovery methods we list below too often or at inappropriate times may impair the muscular and vascular adaptations we are looking to achieve when we train.

If we force recovery and expose ourselves to recovery methods on a regular basis our body may become dependent on such methods and this may impair the natural recovery process.

When to use Active Recovery

shutterstock_255040861 Source: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

During periods of intense physical preparation, for example pre-season training, you want the body to adapt to the stress which it is being placed under. It is during times like this you do not want to use active recovery methods too often as it may be detrimental to the physiological changes we are looking to impose on the body.

In season or during competition is when we use active recovery and regeneration methods most.

During competition the body is placed under a serious amount of physical and psychological stress, if the body cannot recover from such stress appropriately it could lead to over training and over time have a negative effect on performance.

Methods of Active Recovery & Regeneration

During the season or in competition you must be ready to perform, in order for this to happen on a consistent basis we will implement some of the following methods.

Walking
Going for a walk outside alone is one of the easiest and underused methods of recovery. After the stress of intense competition it is good to spend time alone with your thoughts when there is no coaches, teammates or family members talking about the game or competition.

Sled Dragging
Dragging a light sled for distance or time increases blood flow around the body and will promote the removal of metabolic waste products. We recommend building up to 2km or 30-40 mins with minimal load.

Tempo Running
Tempo running is simply straight line running at about 70% of your max speed. This can be done for distance or time. We recommend running for 15-20 secs with the same work/rest time. You should cover the same distance every time for 2 sets of 10 – 15 reps depending on the level of the athlete. This running should feel easy, your first run should look the very same as your last one.

Heart Rate Flush
A heart rate flush can be performed on a stationary bike, cross trainer, airdyne or rowing machine. You will need to have a heart rate monitor so you can ensure HR stays between 120-150bpm. You can alternate between a couple of machines or stay on the same one. Aim to complete 20-40 mins.

Hydrotherapy
If you have access to a swimming pool, low intensity aqua jogging is very beneficial. The water reduces the stress on the joints. If you are a strong swimmer and can comfortably maintain a set pace this will also work. Aim for 20-40mins. We will be writing a separate article on the benefits of floatation chambers for recovery soon so keep an eye out for that.

Bodybuilding Work/Repetition Method
Bodybuilding style workouts are a good way to get some work done without taxing the body too much. The aim should to pick exercise which focus on smaller muscle groups and complete 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps. Total workout time should be 30 minutes.

In association with Elite Physical Prep. Check out their websiteTwitter or Facebook for more information.

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