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Complementary activities for active recovery

Runners: Cycling is the perfect complementary activity, because it maintains leg strength and cardio fitness while giving your legs a break from the pounding of running.

Cyclists: Running and rowing are both great options for active recovery because they can help to develop your quads, core and glutes.

Swimmers: Swimmers are notorious for avoiding any activity that doesn't involve ploughing up and down the pool, but if you want to take a break from endless laps, rowing builds strength in the shoulders, arms, legs and core, all of which can translate into better performance once you're back in the water.

Stretching: Flexibility workouts should be a part of your regular program, but are particularly important after a hard workout. Be sure to stretch as part of your cool down, later in day (before bed is a good time), and on 'recovery' days.

So next time that you're feeling sore from a long hard session, experiment with active recovery. Chances are you'll recover quicker and be ready sooner for that next tough workout.


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Sairyo K, Iwanaga K, Yoshida N, Mishiro T, Terai T, Sasa T, Ikata T. Effects of active recovery under a decreasing workload following intense muscular exercise on intramuscular energy metabolism. Int J Sports Med. 2003 Apr;24(3):179-82.

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M Suzuki, T Umeda, S Nakaji, T Shimoyama, T Mashiko, and K Sugawara Effect of incorporating low intensity exercise into the recovery period after a rugby match. Br J Sports Med 2004 38: 436-440.

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