Do you still remember your first day of Parkour – all the jumping, runnning and climbing? You, trying every weird movement that you’ve always wanted to do outside, in the city, without feeling the judgemental looks of others? What a nice day that was.
Boy would it have been nice to know about this active recovery workout back then.
Jacob Lidström, experienced physiotherapist and teacher of yoga for 8 years, has put together this article and the corresponding video of the active recovery workout, which you can find at the bottom of the article.
The gains in strength and ability occur when you are resting
After an exhausting weekend of training Parkour, you’ll usually have put a lot of stress on your body, especially your legs, shoulders and your back (core). It´s normal to experience soreness and stiffness the day after a hard training.
But when you have trained you also need to recover. This is important both physically and mentally.
Actually the gains in strength and ability will occur when you are resting between your sessions not when you are training.
When you are relaxed and resting, the body is in a more anabolic state and will try to compensate for previous stress by strengthening the systems you have trained. So to optimize your training you should make your recovery a priority just as much as the training itself.
To avoid overtraining and decrease the risk of injury it is important to vary the intensity in your training, as well as what you are training. If you mostly practice Parkour jumps, but not do any supporting conditioning, this puts a certain stress on the body. It is definitely true that Parkour in itself is a very complex and broad movement discipline but there will still come a time when you need some rest from your ordinary routine.
To recover properly you shouldn’t be completely passive
While a good night of sleep and maybe a power nap at day time is good, lying on the couch doing nothing for several days is not optimal for recovery. On the contrary it is still important to move your body to maintain proper blood circulation and mobility. This is called active recovery and there is a lot of evidence suggesting it´s more effective compared to complete rest (1).
Basically during an active recovery workout, you continue to move but avoid doing any high intensity training or other movements that could indicate overtraining.
Another important effect of active recovery is promoting blood lactate clearance (2) which is helpful in improving muscle stamina. You will also notice that by keeping your body in motion you will feel less stiffness and muscle soreness.
The studies are making clear that an active recovery workout should aim specifically at targeting the areas you normally use more in your regular practice (3). In Parkour this might generally be the quads, shoulders and core muscles.
Too much mental stress can have negative effects on your health and will reduce your ability to train and to recover
Something else to take into consideration is mental stress. Research has shown that psychological stress seems to impair recovery of muscular function (4).
We all have stress in our life, this is normal and part of the deal, being human. But too much mental stress can have negative effects on your health and will reduce your ability to train and to recover. Therefore it is good to have some tools to reduce psychological stress in your active recovery workout as well.
To sum it up
there are 3 parts you should consider to incorporate in your recovery routine next to proper food and sufficient sleep.
- Low/moderate intensity movements to increase circulation and facilitate lactate clearance.
- Specifically targeted movements to mobilize, stretch and gently train the areas you feel are more stiff, for example quads, shoulders, thoracic spine.
- Do slow, soft, deep breathing to keep calm and reduce psychological stress.
Yoga can be a great tool both to maintain mobility, increase blood circulation and reduce stress. As a tool for post workout recovery and to sharpen mental focus I believe yoga is one of the better methods to use for many athletes.
The Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskar is a basic yoga sequence every mover can do. For a person not used to exercise it can be though but if you are used to train for hours it’s an easy routine and perfectly suited as active recovery workout. Surya Namaskar increases circulation in your whole body and improves mobility of the hips, shoulder and spine.
It also strengthens the deltoids, triceps and upper back muscles while preparing the wrist joints for taking higher loads.
Follow This 10-Step Routine, or Watch the Video Below
- Start in a standing position, do slow soft breathing through the nose in the whole sequence.
Then fold your upper body forwards, keeping your legs straight.
- Jump or walk back with both legs and press your weight towards your feet, keep the arms and legs straight, this is the downward dog position. Stay here for 5 breaths.
- Take a big step forward with the left leg and come down to a deep lunge. Place your hands at your hip. Stay here for 3 breaths.
- Go back to the downward dog for 1 breath and again take a big step forward with the left leg, but now fold your leg under you and rest on your knee . Stay for 3 breaths.
- Come back to the downward dog first for 1 breath, and repeat step 3. and 4. with your right leg in front. Keep your chest open.
- Again come back to the downward dog and stay for 5 breaths.
- Then bend your arms and dive towards the floor, almost touching it with your forehead, then nose, chin and chest. Then pull yourself forwards and upwards while straightening the arms. Keep your shoulder depressed and scapulas retracted.
Open the chest. Keep buttocks and abdominals tight and legs straight.
Breath out when going forward, breath in when going back to the downward dog.
- Come back to downward dog for one breath then repeat the forward motion 3 times.
- Get back to the downward dog one last time and then jump or walk the feet to the hands and come up.
This is one sequence.
Repeat the whole sequence for 3 times.
10. After you finish, lay down for five minutes in complete relaxation and do deep breathing.
You can repeat this routine up to three times a day.
Be sure to be conscious with each breath, and feel the muscles that you are stretching or using.
Focus each time a little bit more on your breath-work, so that breathing and the whole routine will become second nature and you will quickly feel why this is an active recovery workout.
For those who didn’t follow the picture-series, here is the video for you to bookmark, so you can find it quickly whenever these sore muscles bother you.
With 15 years of yoga background, and being a professional physiotherapist, he has worked with all kinds of movement athletes so far and continues sharing his insights.
Do you have any questions, or want suggest another topic for a future article, let us know it in the comments below.
Make sure to also visit his website www.yogawithjacob.com for more content and exclusive lessons!
(1) Strejcová B, Konopková R.The effect of active recovery, cold water immersion and passive recovery on subsequent knee extension and flexion strength. Acta Univ. Palacki. Olomuc.,skypeGymn. 2012, vol. 42, no. 3.
(2) Nancy A. Martin MS. Robert F. Robert J. Scott M. The Comparative Effects of Sports Massage, Active Recovery, and Rest in Promoting Blood Lactate Clearance After Supramaximal Leg Exercise. Journal of Athletic Training. 1998;33: 30-35
(3) Pedro L. Valenzuela, Pedro de la Villa, Carmen Ferragut. Effect of Two Types of Active Recovery on Fatigue and Climbing Performance. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2015) 14, 769-775
(4) Matthew A. Stults-Kolehaimen, John B. Bartholomew, Rajita Sinha. Chronic psychological stress impairs recovery of muscular function and somatic sensations over a 96-hour period. J Strength Cond Res 28(7): 2007–2017, 2014