We all know how important it is to stay active in order to keep fit and healthy, but rest and recovery often go under the radar. Rest is a very important part of being healthy so make sure you know how much you should be resting and why.
Why are rest days important?
When we train, we are putting stress and strain on our body so that it has to adapt and change. When you lift weights you are tearing your muscles and it is not until you refuel and rest that your muscles repair and grow stronger. This is why overtraining is such a problem and why rest days are so important.
Tips for ensuring adequate recovery
Plan rest days.
Create a programme with rest and recovery sessions included. Most people plan a training regime but won’t make progressive changes to it or factor in rest. Add recovery days to ensure you get the most from your training.
Nourish your body.
Eat a nutrient-dense diet with adequate quality resources from carbs, proteins and fats. Nutrition helps the recovery process by replenishing the muscle and liver glycogen stores, helping to restore the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat, and proteins will assist with muscle repair. This is particularly critical in your choice of post-workout meal.
Ensure your recovery timing is relative to your sport or exercise.
For example, a boxer or fighter will need a significant amount of recovery time in between fights. A light jog or yoga class will, in contrast, only take minimal recovery.
Pain killers can mask the pain of an injury or ache and lead you to rush into your next session too quickly, without giving yourself adequate time to repair.
Have weeks of complete rest.
This will give your body time to recover and you will return with a new lease of enthusiasm for your training, with more energy and regained focus.
Get a massage.
Massage can help to relieve tired, achy muscles through potentially helping to break down built up fluid which will help to reduce inflammation and speed up the recovery process.
The stress hormone cortisol interferes with your recovery in a big way. Elevated cortisol levels will leave you stressed, moody and can cause a catabolic state where muscle is burned and fat is stored.