Sounds crazy doesn’t it? Being too sore and not being in the mood to workout. Perhaps your mind is willing but your body is broken down and feeling defeated. What should you do? Do you stay home and do nothing (passive recovery) or do a light workout (active recovery)? There are several factors needed to determine the correct answer, but mainly you’ll need to listen to your body.
No matter which route you choose, the end result will be the same – your muscles recover. How quickly they recover will depend on your own fitness level and the amount of soreness you have.
There are two type of recovery – Active and Passive.
You literally do nothing and wait to get better. This is your first option and perhaps the most appealing. Are your quads sore? Well why not just stay still and do nothing? This will keep you away from the pain. While this can be a good solution, passive recovery is not always the best idea.
You do your workout with ¼ the intensity of the workout that caused the soreness. Interesting idea, wouldn’t you agree? If your quads are really sore from squatting, the best way to get better may be light squatting.
The purpose of active recovery is to get blood flow into the sore muscles. Blood flow brings nutrients and nutrients will repair broken tissues faster. This is why active recovery is usually the best idea. The best part about active recovery is that you will recover faster and you can do this virtually anywhere.
Staying still will keep you to stay away from pain but it will hurt a lot more once you do start moving. If yesterday was a crazy leg day, sitting today sounds great until you actually have to get up and move.
Active recovery doesn’t mean a full workout!
You simply want to activate and move your sore muscles. They will usually start to feel better very quickly.
The type of active recovery is very important because you do not want to put stress on the joints and muscles, just promote blood flow.
Some great active recovery ideas:
- Foam Rolling
- Mobility Drills
- Light Weight Training
- Going for a Walk or Light Jog
- Light Cycling
If it hurts, stop. These workouts are not meant to push limits. Trying to workout hard while sore will lead to overtraining, decreased motivation, and increased risk of injury – nothing good.
Is passive recovery ever a good idea? Yes, if your body says so. Learn to listen to what your body tells you. Passive recovery is especially important for the all or nothing types. Some of us cannot control our intensity level when we hit the gym, and should stay home if we feel too sore. If the proper level of work cannot be maintained, more damage than good can be done.
Take time to learn your body and listen to what it tells you. If you are too sore, try moving the sore muscles with a light workout.