Rest and recovery are equally as important as your training, but they’re often pushed to the side and overlooked. It’s important to take rest days not only for your physical health, but for your mental health as well.
Why We Need Rest Days
Although some hardcore athletes may think rest days are for the weak, you’re body NEEDS rest. It needs the time to rebuild and repair itself. Contrary to certain athletes that feel as though they’re falling behind in their sport, having a set rest day/days each week will actually improve performance in your sport.
Here are a couple signs that your body might need some more rest or recovery time:
- Feeling moody or irritable
- Feeling physically exhausted or fatigued
- You don’t enjoy doing the activities that you normally enjoy doing
- Prolonged injuries
- Overwhelming soreness
- Declined performance
Ways To Recover
Taking a rest day isn’t the only way to help your body recover, nor should it be your only form of recovery. Some forms of recovery are stretching, foam rolling, massage, sauna, light physical activity, and self-care to name a few.
1- Active recovery
Lightly moving your body on rest days like taking a walk around the block, doing some mild yoga or going on a leisurely bike ride, are great ways to help your body recover by pumping blood into your muscles and help reduce inflammation in the body.
When blood is delivered to the muscles, so are oxygen and nutrients.
2- Stretching and mobility
Dynamic stretching or static stretching are both great ways to help loosen up muscles and increase range of motion. For more about stretching and flexibility click here.
Other ways to improve mobility are getting regular messages, foam rolling, using a massage stick or using a lacrosse or tennis ball for the more hard-to-reach places. This helps with Myofascial Release, meaning it helps loosen up the Myofascial connective tissue to help increase range of motion and decrease pain.
It’s more important to make sure your body is getting in 7-9 hours of sleep each night than it is to wake up early and sacrifice your sleep. Now this isn’t an excuse to sleep in or start skipping your morning workouts, the point is to show how important it is to prioritize sleep by either getting to bed earlier or moving your workout to a different time in the day.
Not getting enough sleep will affect your mood, energy levels and hormones. So it might seem like it is important to wake up at 5 am to go to the gym, but unless you went to bed between 8 and 10pm the night before, overall you’ll be doing your body more harm than good.
When we think about rest and recovery we tend to focus on stretching and sleep. However, self-care is also an extremely important thing to focus on because it can help bring the body into a parasympathetic state which is the whole goal of rest and recovery.
Some ideas for self-care and stress management are journaling, mediation, taking a nap, going to a movie, playing with kids, stretching, going out and getting coffee, or having a conversation with a loved one. There are SO many options to choose from but it’s vital we get those in as well.
Rest and recovery not only improves your overall performance, but is also a critical component to focus on to get in the best shape of your life! Another important aspect of performance and recovery is proper supplementation. Check out our BCAAs to assist you before, during, after your workout.