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Active Recovery vs. Passive Recovery for Athletes 10 / 2 / 2012

Active Recovery

Active recovery involves performing low-intensity exercise to promote recovery from training sessions of a higher intensity. 

ABC Body Building notes that one of the main benefits of active recovery is increased blood flow to muscles. This allows the muscles to receive nutrients they need to grow and recover. Secondly, active recovery clears the muscles of lactic acid buildup, optimizing the athlete's body and decreasing soreness.

Lactic acid buildup is problematic for some athletes and can “severely inhibit your athletic performance if not cleared out of your system,” says ABC Body Building. Active recovery proves itself a great direction to bring oxygen to the muscles and decrease lactic acid buildup. 

Does this look normal?


Passive Recovery

Passive recovery is just that: passive. It would involve virtually no movement, or very little, to aid in recovery. Haylee Foster of the Livestrong blog notes that “passive recovery will clearly feel best after a heavy workout considering it allows for complete rest, rather than continual movement.” 

Although passive recovery seems the ‘easier route’ to go, it may not be as beneficial for athletic performance or recovery. 

Foster continues: “The benefits of active recovery are well documented. The "Journal of Sports Science and Medicine" as well as the "Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology" both highly recommend active recovery over passive for its ability to reduce lactic acid buildup, improve subsequent performance and general recovery between intense workouts. One study in "The Sport Journal" revealed that not only did active recovery improve performance, but it also reduced the athletes' heart rate. 

That said, active recovery is recommended for basic soreness and may not be recommended for injuries, no matter how minimal. Always consult a certified trainer or physician to see what kind of athletic recovery method suits you best. 



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