Active Recovery Methods
Often times when I discuss recovery methods with clients, the assumption is that recovery means to simply sit back, do nothing and wait for our body to repair itself and for energy levels to be restored. Many days this is what is needed but there are also activities that we can categorize as active recovery methods, which can speed up the pace of recovery, allowing you train, surf or party harder and more often. Here a couple of examples of what you can try:
1. Aerobic Work
Building your aerobic base, your ability to use oxygen efficiently, is probably one of the best things that you can do to improve your recovery time. This means long duration, low intensity exercise at a pace where you can comfortably hold a conversation or maintain nasal breathing. You could run, walk, bike, swim, yoga, stretch, dance or row and as long as your heart rate stays below 70% of your max, then you can consider it aerobic training and can also consider it to be active recovery. This helps you move the byproducts of more strenuous exercise out of your body, pumps nutrition into your body and obviously does great things for your cardiovascular health.
2. Stress a different system of your body
My favorite way to do this is thermal stress. Cold plunges or saunas are a great way to stress your body, creating a favorable adaptation without overburdening it through more exercise. In fact, regular sauna use has even been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness and endurance in the absence of specific endurance training. If you don’t have a sauna, you can still get similar benefits by running a hot bath and soaking for a good 20-30 minutes, which can also build a nice sweat.
3. Tai Chi
This is a practice that has stood the test of time, with its origins dating back over 700 years. Tai Chi develops endurance, increases bone density, improves coordination and balance and is intended to fill your body with energy by circulating chi throughout your system. Combining gentle movements with focused breath work, this form of exercise is a great way to recover actively from more strenuous types of exercise, providing more energy than is expended. You can find many great tutorials on Youtube, which can teach you simple flows.