Let’s talk about Active Recovery

Let’s talk active recovery – something that some of us don’t actually know about and something that many of forget about. A common misconception is that higher intensity workouts are often thought to give us better and faster results, but in fact our bodies need active recovery, and it could actually transform your fitness results.

Don’t get us wrong, pushing your edge is great for you and your health. But if you exercise too much, it can have the opposite effect. Would you believe that some people exercise too much? It’s true. And that’s not good for your body or your mind. In fact, for some, it can be the start of something that warrants intervention.

Never skip a warm up or a cool-down! Here’s why.  

Think about it – how good is a pre or post-workout stretch? Simply put, active recovery is choosing low-intensity exercises after pushing your limit with high intensity sessions. It could be something as simple as a brisk walk cool down after a run, or a quick yoga practice to stretch out sore muscles. Essentially, active recovery is making sure you’re stretching out your muscles either before or after your workout, especially on those HIIT days!  

If you’re feeling a little lost on how to stretch what, we’ve got you covered. We have a VARIETY of stretch-seshes on Sudor. But, before we get to the juicy bits, here’s a breakdown on how to stretch before and after your workouts. 

How to Stretch Before Exercise 

Warming your body up before your workout may be your very own secret weapon when it comes to taking your workout to the next level. With warmer muscles comes increased flexibility which can lead to more effective workouts. Here are some stretches you can try before exercise to help warm your body up:

  • Use a foam roller to increase blood flow to muscles.
  • Stretch those hammies out using a stretch band.
  • Get your heart rate up by jogging in place or doing some jumping jacks.

Sudor’s Top Tip: For static stretches like stretching your hamstrings, aim for 30-seconds per stretch to prevent overworking your muscles before exercise.

The Best Kinds of Active Recovery 

So you’ve just smashed that PB out of the park and your body is screaming for a shower –  but wait, there’s more… it’s time to stretch. While it may feel like the last thing you want to do, it’s super important to get a quick stretch in to support muscle and joint recovery in under five minutes. These stretches also help promote muscle growth.

Here are some ways to actively stretch after a workout:

  • Yoga: Research has proven the amazing benefits yoga has for both mind and body. It’s the perfect way to wind down after your workout or max out on your designated active recovery day. Not only is it a significant tool for feelings of anxiety and general stress, but there are clinical benefits for the body as well.

  • Pilates: Pilates can be a little more intense than yoga, depending on how hard you’re wanting to push yourself. However, much like yoga, a gentle Pilates workout is a great way to strengthen, tone, and improve flexibility without being hard on your muscles and joints. Sudor’s collection of pilates is unmatched, so check it out and find what moves you. 
  • Stretching:  So simple, but SO GOOD! A good stretch after a workout makes for the perfect active recovery exercise. We all should be stretching after exercise, and don’t underestimate how great stretching is for your fitness results. The more you stretch, the more flexible you’ll be. Lean in to what feels good for your body – stretching comes naturally so don’t overthink it.
  • Walking: If you’re a runner, or just finished up with a sweat-dripping Sudor workout, try going for a brisk walk outside, or hop on the treadmill. Walking is an ideal form of active recovery as you’re improving your cardiovascular endurance, but it’s low-impact enough that you aren’t going to completely stress out your already tired muscles.

Do your body a favour by doing the warmup, and sticking around for the cool down. Even three to five minutes of stretching can make a huge difference in how your body recovers from exercise, and how good you feel during your workouts. The takeaway here is that active recovery should be viewed as more of an add-on to what you are already doing as opposed to a one day a week kind of a thing.