Active and Passive Recovery are both very important, but do you know the difference and why each is important?
Active Recovery lets our body enjoy movement during activities outside of the gym - a sport, a hike, biking or running - typically performed at 50-60% of the intensity you would perform at the gym. This can have multiple positive outcomes, some of which are allowing the bodies tissue time to rest and recover without being so static that they become stiff and sore; it also gets us outside, which has been proven to be beneficial on an emotional, physiological and structural level. Lastly, it reminds us why we are doing all of this.. to live a healthier, more active lifestyle.. to get out and DO things!!
For sports with a technical component (which is most of them), active recovery can essentially double as a technical workout. Since the intensity is low, the athlete can focus on some aspect of technique (either to correct or perfect it depending on where they are in their learning process) and do it under conditions where proper performance should be achievable.
While this is generally true for all sports (with a very few exceptions), it’s especially true for sports with a huge ‘feel/groove’ component. Activities such as the snatch in Olympic lifting require that athletes keep in touch with them almost daily or they lose their feel for the movement (and the more precise the movement patterns are, the more this tends to be the case). Doing them for light work on active recovery days allows the athlete to keep their groove; that’s in addition to any extra technical practice benefits that are gained.
Passive Recovery - These are the rest days where you do nothing... that's right.. nothing. While these may be the hardest recovery days for us to justify, they are extremely necessary. It is only during naps and sleeping at night that our bodies recover on a cellular level. It also gives our minds designated time to turn off and reset.