Going from a hard and heavy weights session one day, to lying on the sofa the next, can sometimes feel paradoxical. While it’s true that your body needs to rest so your muscles can repair, that doesn’t mean you have to be totally sedentary on your rest days.
Active recovery can be a helpful tool between exercise; it basically involves engaging in low-intensity exercise and movement between training sessions, and can actually help to reduce fatigue and uncomfortable post-workout soreness.
Want to give it a go? Here are a few rest-day ideas to get you started…
A few laps in a local leisure centre isn’t just a great way to wash away stress – it also offers a low-impact, total-body workout that’s great for stretching out stiff limbs. Swimming allows your body to be completely weightless too, which takes the pressure off painful or fatigued joints.
2. Self-myofascial release
This sports-massage technique releases tension in the muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia after strenuous exercise, making it a great habit to get into on your rest days. You can use a foam roller or a lacrosse ball to target painful trigger points, massaging the glutes, hamstrings, back and shoulders with firm pressure.
3. Bikram yoga
This popular active recovery technique is a great way to work on your flexibility and promote blood flow around the body on your rest days. Many of the positions in hot yoga also engage the muscles, tendons, and fascia around the joints that typically seize up after a high-intensity workout.
4. Tai Chi
This martial arts technique is a good way to work on your balance and strength, while giving your body a day off from intense body-weight work. Tai Chi involves combining slow, flowing movements with breathing techniques, helping both your body and mind to recover from the stress of an intense workout.
Although active recovery has many benefits, it’s always important to listen to your body and give it a break if it needs one. If you’re overtraining or feel like you’re at risk of injury, it might be more appropriate to take a couple of sofa days until you’re ready to get back in the gym.