Recovery is a vital part of any sport or exercise.
There are many benefits of recovery and rest days in sports. One of these is that it allows the body to adapt to the training done previously. If hard sessions are undertaken one after another, then the body does not have time to rebuild the muscles that have been broken down – therefore a rest day will enhance your performance.
Another benefit of recovery and rest days would be the opportunity to re-fuel the body. After days of continuous exercise, the body is likely to be lagging behind on food and water and ‘rest day’ is the opportunity for the body to catch up. For the next hard sessions of training the body will have the capacity to work at the intensity required.
There are many ways in which recovery can be undertaken. This many include: a protein or carbohydrate drink after a session, light stretching or foam rolling (see previous blogs), warm or cold bath or a massage. All of these components will allow the muscles to loosen and recover quicker, while also enabling the body to replenish its energy stores. These methods of recovery can be done after a session or during a rest day. During a rest day a stretching session is recommended as well as a small walk, to help with active recovery and prevent stiffness. It is also vital to continue to re-fuel on a rest day, the body may even be hungrier and need more food than normal, this is just your body catching up.
Rest days should be planned into a well-rounded training programme. However, there are also signs to look out for which may indicate you need an extra day. For example: excessively tired; irritable and lethargic; feeling emotionally drained; a higher resting heart rate than normal or a severe lack of motivation.
All these signs mean that the body is asking for an extra day off and if listened too will help avoid burnout or injury.