Why is Rest & Recovery important in your training regimen?
Rest and Recovery is an important aspect of any training plan. Your body needs time to repair and strengthen itself between workouts. It is a critical part of your fitness progress and works in your favour to deliver optimal results.
Rigorous exercises can exhaust stored energy and the body needs some vital repair work to adapt to the stress inflicted on its tissues. The nervous system, endocrine system and musculoskeletal systems all need to recover from the trauma.
On your rest day, do not forget to include adequate proteins in your food intake so that your muscles can repair appropriately, and hydrate to allow the passing of nutrients around the body. Note that on your recovery day, you should still aim for some movement, such as a light walk or jog.
Active Recoveryinvolves movements of low intensity, usually performed after a strenuous workout. Restorative yoga, swimming and walking are fine examples of Active Recovery, as they can reduce the build up of lactic acid in your muscles and encourage blood flow in around the body without straining your muscles. Along with helping muscle fatigue, Active Recovery also facilitates optimal performance for your incoming workouts.
These gentler forms of movement can be more beneficial than being completely inactive. One study (Ahmaidi et al. 1996) found that active recovery following intensive training resulted in reaching homeostasis faster than passive recovery (involving no movement). Also note, You cannot recover well if you neglect sleep, as cortisol accumulates, resulting in impaired recovery.
Nonetheless, if you are in extreme pain or have sustained an injury, Active Recovery should be moderated under a doctors supervision. The need to recover is based on the volume and intensity of training. Athletes who play soccer would rest differently from a swimmer. Non-athletes can aim for one active recovery day weekly, however one should regard the advise of their trainer, upon auditing the training plan. Smart watch data can also provide insights and assistance in identifying symptoms of overtraining.
Rest is essential! Plan rest days into your routine as it is the correct way to progress. If you feel restless on rest days, explore alternative forms of movement. Understand that taking time to relax and slow your body down may be insightful and guide you on your journey.