Active Recovery for Your Active Lifestyle

pain performance recovery Aug 01, 2022

Recovery is just as important as your exercise/training. Even if you are not an athlete, recovering from the stresses of your daily life is important.

When I talk about recovery, I am not talking about rest or dealing with an injury. I am talking about purposeful recovery to be able to get back out there and crush your next training session.

Recovery, when done correctly, will help you improve performance as well as make you feel better and reduce your risk of injury.

Recovery can be defined as “a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.” There are a number of ways we can recover, both physically and mentally.

Set yourself up for success.

While most recovery techniques are better after a training session, it is important to think about it beforehand. Doing the right things before training can enhance your recovery efforts after training.

You should go into a training session prepared for the tasks you are about to demand of your body. This means that you should be hydrated an hour before your training session and put in the right foods pre-workout (which may vary depending on the time of day you are eating and training). When eating 2-4 hours before a training session, choose fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates and proteins that are easy to digest. When eating 30 minutes before a training session, limit fats and fiber by selecting a simple carbohydrate snack such as bananas or Greek yogurt.

You should also make sure that you allow an adequate amount of time to warm-up and perform any specific mobility exercises. Depending on your training session, this may be built in for you (i.e. team sports, group training), however you can get a head start and do a warm-up that is more specific to your needs prior to the group warm-up.

Recovery starts immediately after training.

The worst thing you can do is go directly from a training session to sitting in a car then sitting on a couch. Sure, life can make this tough if you leave the gym and go to an office job, but you can still make it a point to move throughout the day.

Immediately after training, start your body’s recovery with a cool down. This could be something simple like stretching, walking, and light jogging, or something more advanced like using dynamic compression devices, percussive therapy, and cryotherapy. It is best to do this before you get in the car to go home or to the office because you are more likely to do it at the gym or field. If necessary, you can still be effective by doing this when you get home.

You need to replenish your body after a training session. Some big things to think about are drinking enough water to keep your body hydrated and putting some protein in your system, whether that is from powder or food. Avoid alcohol and sugary snacks right after training.

What you do at home matters.

Post-workout nutrition is important. Think about it this way, you should: (1) refuel with carbohydrates, (2) repair with protein, and (3) rehydrate with fluids and electrolytes.

Sleep is where the magic happens. Many people take sleep for granted, but getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night has been proven in multiple studies to make you feel better and more resilient to injuries. The body repairs itself during sleep.

You need to move outside of the gym. Sure, your training should be done inside the gym, on the court, on the trails, etc. but you also need to be physically active in your free time. Roughly 5 hours per week at a minimum should be spent being physically active (outside of your actual training). Some good examples include walking in the neighborhood, hiking, stretching at home, and swimming in a pool.

Be mindful and purposeful.

Another highly underrated recovery tool is stress management. Stress is the cause of many peoples’ pain and disease. Learning how to deal with stress and staying positive will do wonders for your recovery and your overall well being.

Recovery is more than just rest. Your recovery should be active and purposeful.

Corey Hall, PT, DPT


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