We love running, but running every day without rest days can take a severe toll. Whether you have rest days scheduled or take them as needed, they’re essential to keeping you injury-free.
However, when you don’t run, that doesn’t mean you need to be sedentary. Many serious runners will opt for an active recovery day. For an active recovery, you do an exercise that is far less strenuous than your usual run but keeps your blood flowing, gets your heart rate up, and helps your muscles rebuild.
Ready to discover the power of active recovery days? Try these top 5 forms of active recovery for runners.
Cycling is an excellent form of exercise but is much gentler on the body than running. Going for an intense bike ride may be as intense as a daily run for amateur cyclists. Of course, that’s not the goal here.
If you’re looking for active recovery, hop on some cycles and do a few laps around your neighborhood or on an easy trail. Go for about 30 minutes at an easy pace.—this isn’t a race after all!
You’ll get your blood flowing to your muscles, and they’ll be able to rebuild without working too hard again.
2. Walking and Hiking
You love running, but perhaps just bringing your pace down could be the perfect way to rest actively. There are several benefits of walking, and it can even improve your running by forcing you to think about your form and gait at a slower pace.
If you go for a walk around the neighborhood and find yourself itching to go into a higher gear, opt for a hike instead. Take in some new and beautiful views while promoting muscle recovery.
3. Strength Training
Every time you run, you’re working out the same muscle groups. It can cause a muscle imbalance, leading to injury.
To balance out your muscles’ strength, use strength training exercises to target the neglected muscle groups. The arms, in particular, could use a good workout, but you can also further strengthen and stabilize your lower body.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the importance of stretching before and after your run. But stretching itself can be a great exercise, especially on your rest days. By stretching, you can alleviate muscle pain and improve your flexibility.
Tight muscles lead to more significant injury than limber ones. So, create a regular stretching routine. You can even stretch before another exercise like your walk or bicycling.
Don’t just stretch your legs, but stretch your entire body. You can even try yoga and see how a more flexible, stable body affects your running.
You don’t need any serious routine to get a good amount of exercise from swimming. Of course, you can do laps and improve your form and endurance. However, simply treading water and moving through the pool will give you a good calorie burn and keep your heart healthy for those wanting an active recovery.
If you get into the pool and are not sure what you’re supposed to do, start by swimming from one side of the pool to the other. You can freestyle, doggy-paddle, or work on a stroke.
As long as you’re moving your body, you’re supporting your health while allowing your muscles to recover from your serious running days.
Start Your Active Recovery
Don’t overwork your body by running and every day and causing an injury, but don’t wait around waiting for your next run. Get back to top form faster by moving your body and supporting your muscles in an even faster recovery.