In an era of river repair, the concept of recovery enhancement has become central to river management practice. However, until about the early 2000s there were no coherent geomorphic frameworks with which to forecast river recovery potential. While the practical uptake of such frameworks has been slow, and debates continue about what recovery means, some river management agencies in different parts of the world have applied related concepts within catchment scale, process-based approaches to river management. Agencies that make use of recovery enhancement approaches have reframed the way that vision setting, planning, and prioritization are undertaken. In this study, we review river recovery as a principle. We then present, using examples, an updated version of the framework for assessing river recovery and river recovery potential that is embedded in the River Styles framework. Finally, we show how the application of this framework can be used to better inform river management practice. WIREs Water 2016, 3:727–748. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1158. This article is categorized under: Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness Engineering Water > Planning Water.