Tips For Active Recovery - By Smitha Barki May 16, 2014 16:38

For athletes and runners looking to perform their best, proper recovery is essential. As there is not a "one size fits all" approach, we always love hearing what works well for others. We recently caught up with Smitha Barki of Faux Runner who provided some insight into the topic of active recovery and what she has learned works best for her. (And in case you missed it, check out our recent blog post on this topic, too!).

Tips for Active Recovery by Smitha Barki

My journey into running started rather abruptly - a spur of the moment decision took me from being a couch potato to a half marathon runner in a matter of months.  While I wouldn't recommend this approach to others, it was my journey and it lead to a crash course on hydration, nutrition, gear, training plans, and active recovery.  

Yes, subjecting my body to all those miles made me aware of muscles I didn’t know existed. And they all protested. They protested so much that I ended up with IT band pain, tight calf and hamstrings, pain in the butt (literally), and a horde of other things. That was when I discovered the need and importance for proper recovery. 

Here are some ways that I have incorporated active recovery into my training schedule:

Nutrition
My recovery starts the minute I have finished my run. Like many runners, I am diligent about their recovery drink after a run. My favorite? Chocolate milk immediately following a hard run and Tart cherry juice the evening of.  I have learned, however, that what I drink and eat through out the day is most important. I stick to ongoing healthy nutrition to aid recovery. 

Yoga
Running and yoga complement each other and helps with my flexibility along with facilitating core, quad and hamstring strength. If practicing yoga 1-2 times/week is a greater time (and/or money!) commitment than you are ready for, even 5 minutes of holding your yoga stretches after a run helps gets those muscles loose. My favorite pose - sun salutations and the pigeon pose. 

Massage
Research shows that a massage can reduce muscle soreness by about 30 percent. If I could afford it, I’d get a massage every single week. An alternative is self-massage, using a tool like the ensō roller. I spend 5 minutes every night with my ensō rolling out tight areas and a weekly date night for a full body self-massage. Complementing this with a monthly visit to my massage therapist goes a long way to keeping those muscles in order.

Active Rest
Walk, swim, bike, or do anything easy to keep your legs moving and also to keep your energy levels up. Always be mindful not to overdo things. And of course, if you experience pain or are injured, stop and take a complete rest day. Or two...My favorite active recovery? Hiking at my favorite trails with my munchkins!

Rest
After active rest comes proper rest. As in sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep to aid your body in recovery. Proper sleep also helps maintain your immune system; after all, you don’t want to miss your run because you are sick, do you? As a working mom, getting enough sleep is sometimes unattainable.  My workaround? Quick power naps when I can squeeze them in! A 15-20 minute shut eye rejuvenates me.

It is not only the miles that make you trained for your race, but also the unspoken recovery. Run, rest and recover! And have fun!

Orignally from India, Smitha was a nerd all her life with no thought for fitness until she moved to Melbourne, Australia and adopted the outdoor lifestyle that seemed synonymous with Aussies. When she moved to Atlanta, work, life, kids and everything else took over until a chance incident turned her into a runner. She is now passionate about fitness and having fun while being fit. Along with trying to juggle being a super mom, Smitha blogs at The Faux Runner