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Active vs. Passive Recovery

September 10, 2018

Active and Passive Recovery

Have you ever felt so sore after a workout that you didn’t want to move the next day? Doesn’t matter if you are a yoga master, love breaking a sweat during spin, or get your fitness from homeowner yard maintenance, it’s the recovery process that enables you to bounce back.   

Active and passive recoveryRecovery is key to a balanced life. Keep pushing your boundaries and busting it in your training, but did you know that spending hours on end training or working out might actually stall your progress?  Just like your mind might need a break from work, recovery and rest are essential parts of any natural conditioning program.

The purpose of recovery is to allow for the body to recover and repair itself after an activity, sport or workout. Recovery must happen before any progress can be made, and it’s important to stay injury free, for long-term consistency in your physical health.

 There are two types of recovery: Active and Passive.

  • Active Recovery: Occurs while the body is still moving, often referring to low-intensity exercise after workouts.
    • Examples: Dynamic cool down, yoga, stretching, light activity
  • Passive Recovery: Occurs while the body is at more traditional “rest” state
    • Examples: Sleeping, therapeutic treatments, cryotherapy, massage

Active recovery after workouts help reduce muscle lactate levels faster than complete rest. Lactate is the waste that your muscles produce, causing that burning feeling after you push your body and it prohibits comfortable flexibility. By continuing a low intensity exercise, you clear your bloodstream by allowing your body to transport negative products away from muscles to move towards a refreshed and renewed state.

Passive Recovery after a workout, essentially means putting your feet up and relaxing. The muscles are given a full relaxation period. Workout. Stop. Perhaps stretch…then nothing again until your next session. Learning to rest well is a skill that is personalized. This type of recovery minimizes strain on the body, though it does little to promote the bloodflow.

Balanced Recovery

Recovery is integral and a balanced approach may help the body repair and rebuild itself for maximum performance.  So, what can you do to integrate both active and passive recovery types into your fitness routine? 

Here are SIX tips:

  • Always do a proper warm-up and cool-down of at least 10 minutes. Find a combination of dynamic and static stretching that works best for you. 
  • Sleep at least 8 hours per day per week. It is also recommended that you try to keep a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time.
  • Stay Hydrated! 64 oz is the bare minimum for the day, but if you are exercising add more. If you are losing a lot of sweat, weigh in before exercise.  For every pound lost drink 16 oz of water (ex: 2.5 pounds lost = 40 oz extra of water needed)
  • Incorporate pilates or yoga one day per week to work on core strength and balance.
  • Listen to your body! Utilize ice and heat as needed before or after exercising to help with pain.  If needed, change your exercise plan to accommodate for body pain or soreness.
  • Utilize Alignmed posture products can be worn during both active and passive recovery times. These products can help support the body’s structures by putting your body in proper alignment.  This can help increase function, decrease pain and improve body awareness.


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