Recovery and Why You Need It
Today, I’m stepping aside and letting my man Noah do the writing. We are talking recovery so dive in and let us know what you think!
What is Recovery?
Usually when people think of recovering it is associated with some sort of injury within the fitness industry. An injury occurs when a part of your body is stressed and damaged to an extent that usually causes pain and inflammation. After you are injured, there are steps in recovery you usually take to get back to your best self like rest and ice. This lets your body heal with time, lots of time.
After a short bout of exercise, your body actually becomes damaged, NOT improved (something to consider next time you’re leaving the gym). After you lifted all those weights, ran all of those miles, or even crushed a bike ride your body does have the same stress and strain as seen in injuries, just to a lesser extent.
Does this mean you should stop exercising because you don’t want your body to become weak? No, of course not. If that were the case, I would be out of a job because no one would want to work out. The body needs this stress and strain upon it to get stronger. The way it gets stronger is by HEALING after you put a healthy amount of stress and strain on the body. So next time you’ve just got done crushing a workout think about what your body needs to recover afterward.
The body is like a teeter-totter with how fast your body is healing on one side and the amount of stress to your body on the other side pushing down. If you put too much stress on your body, you will need to have more healing to help prevent injury and be at your healthiest. If you have too much rest, your body won't get the stress it needs to become stronger.
The body has many different ways of healing itself, but the key components are sleep, nutrients, and MOVEMENT. We all know the effect of a good diet (including hydration) and sleep play on the body, but how can movement actually heal us? Our bodies are great at using our heart to pump nutrients to all the parts of the body that need it, but we have a whole other system that actually takes the waste products leftover from our bouts of exercise, as well as other waste products, called the lymphatic system. This system relies on our muscles to push the waste products back to organs to be removed from the body. Movement also helps get nutrients to places of our body that don’t receive nutrients normally like our joints. Many of our body’s joints do not get blood supply to it but instead rely on the fluid being pushed mechanically from compression and release from within the joint. Can you think of how we can compress and decompress a joint? You got it, movement!
Active vs. Passive Recovery
Using movement to increase your recovery and healing is called active recovery. The opposite of active recovery would be passively recovering which involves laying around and rest. Both of these types of exercise recovery play a crucial role in healing. The body needs a balance of both movement and rest to fight healing the best.
Passive recovery lets the body relax and heal by not using it and letting it take care of itself. A great portion of the body recovers when we are asleep, so I recommend saving the passive recovery for when you are getting your zzz’s. Some things that might help you passively recover a bit faster is using some ice after a workout on the sore spots, and maybe some heat a few days after if the sore spot is still bothering you.
Active recovery styles are based around slow movements that are less demanding on the body. Things you commonly see are yoga, static and dynamic stretching, tai chi, and even foam rolling. My favorites are deep tissue massages and some self-myofascial release techniques. An article in the journal of Frontiers of Physiology showed that just 7-10 minutes of active recovery techniques after exercising can reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) over the next 48 hours (1). Doing just 10 minutes of active recovery will help your body heal, but this involves more than just static stretching.
(1) Dupuy, O., Douzi, W., Theurot, D., Bosquet, L., & Dugué, B. (2018). An Evidence-Based Approach for
Choosing Post-exercise Recovery Techniques to Reduce Markers of Muscle Damage, Soreness,
Fatigue, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in physiology, 9, 403. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2018.00403
Also, check out some videos (can also check them out on Facebook) that Noah put together!