Whether you’ve recently started getting into fitness, or you’re an advanced athlete, it can be exciting to see progress from your training regimen. After completing a great workout, you may already be looking ahead to your next session. But it’s just as important to schedule rest days no matter what your routine is — and here’s why.
Recover Between Workouts
Even the most dedicated athletes take time to recover, because in actuality, the most beneficial effects of exercise happen after the workout.
During strenuous exercise muscle tissue is broken down, or “traumatized.” The rest period afterward is when these muscles build back up, making you stronger. This means that not taking time to rebuild can actually get in the way of your progress.
Rest days are also when the body replenishes glycogen, a powerful fuel that prevents muscle fatigue in the future. With all this in mind, we suggest you reframe your “rest days,” into “growth days” that can enhance your strength and performance.
Minimize Injury Risk
Pushing yourself too hard — regardless of what you’re doing — significantly increases your risk of injury. When your body is fatigued, you’re more likely to use improper form and balance, which could lead to an injury that leaves you sidelined for weeks or even months.
Even if you are maintaining good form and being careful, overuse injuries can still develop when low-grade force is applied to a certain area over a long period of time. Runners, for example, are prone to stress fractures, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis, or inflammation of the tissue band that runs the length of the foot — all because of the regular strain being put on the body. This is why rest days are strategically incorporated into training programs for races, competitions, and other athletic goals. And they should be even for the most basic beginners.
Feel Better Physically & Mentally
When you give your body a chance to recover from hard work, it flushes excess lactate from the muscles, which helps alleviate soreness. During these periods, the circulatory system also removes byproducts in muscle cells, providing necessary oxygen and nutrients to damaged tissue, helping your body to feel better.
Rest days also help you feel better mentally. Taking time away from exercise, work, family obligations or any other demanding activity gives you the chance to spend time with friends and loved ones, pursue other hobbies, and reset. In general, taking a strategic rest day can allow you to return to all of your activities feeling more focused and determined.
What Should You Do on a Rest Day?
There are plenty of ways to enjoy an active recovery that still allows your body to restore itself. Taking a rest day doesn’t necessarily mean only streaming a new series from your couch (though there’s nothing wrong with kicking back that way if it’s what you’re feeling). A stroll outside or light yoga may do the trick if you want to get moving. If total rest is what you’re after, consider something that will soothe sore muscles, such as booking a massage or taking a warm bath with Epsom salts.
Of course, injuries can still happen even if you’ve been taking scheduled rest days. If you’re experiencing any type of pain from your workout — or any of your day-to-day activities — allow one of our providers to help pinpoint the cause and find the right treatment for you. Connect with us online or by calling (833) 523-0906.