http-equiv='refresh'/> Global Therapies: Rest Days

Friday, 21 October 2011

Rest Days

Our blog is now featured on our website ( You should be redirected automatically to this article on our new site.

If you get an ERROR MESSAGE, or you are not redirected please press the REFRESH button on your browser.

Knackered. Run down. Beat up. However, you still feel like you should go to the gym, go on that run, do a hang board session or go to the climbing wall.
Really? Is that going to do you much good?

Think about how many times you train during the week.
Actually, more importantly, how many days do you REST during the week? Note that this doesn't mean how many days do you not go to the gym or run if on that day you do some other activity, that's a change, not a rest.

How often do you actually take a break and let your muscles, cardiac system and nervous system rest?
Chances are it isn't very often.

One of the main reasons for getting run down, and, more importantly from a training perspective - getting injured is because an athlete does not get enough rest. This can be rest and recovery on a day to day basis, but it must also manifest itself in time away from the active stimulus of exercise.
I for one can find this a little difficult. I eat a fair amount, and I have quite a lot of excess energy, so on a day when I am resting and not getting out there to bike, run or climb, I have to think about what I'm doing so that I don't end up bouncing off the walls by the end of the day.

A rest day is a day away from hard exercise. It can include some light stuff, like a walk to the park, a leisurely cycle around a lake, a light massage something like that, or even just a day of not lifting weights.
Why? What is so important about this?

Our bodies respond to outside stimuli - muscles, nerves, brains etc. When there is a constant overload to one or more of the systems, the body releases hormones which enable the Sympathetic Nervous System to take over. This is the "fight or flight" side of the nervous system. If you are constantly in a state of tension, constantly on edge and ready to "go", it has a negative effect upon the body.

Added to this, when you exercise, you burn fuel, which breaks down muscle. With exercise your muscles suffer microtrauma. The muscle and neurological pathways then regrow and retrench themselves when you are not using them. The body needs down time to repair and regenerate itself before you put it through the next "test".

Indeed, stress from competition or trauma can lead to sympathetic dominance, and a series of potential issues such as breathing disorders, digestive upset, disrupted sleep patterns and immune system weakness against illness and disease.

If the body doesn't have enough time to regenerate, it begins to breakdown, you will feel more and more tired, more and more run down and at some point, it will break. Your body will react to the constant overload in your training programme as overtraining. The body responds to long term stress, physiological or psychological, with a general sympathetic response - a series of physiological and hormonal adjustments. I'll look at stress a little more specifically in a later blog.

A way to stop this from happening is to take adequate rest. To give yourself time to regroup and regenerate. If you don't know how often you are doing this, then try keeping a rest diary. I'm sure a number of you keep training or running diaries, you may even keep a food diary. But a rest diary is just as important. Write down what recovery practices (rest, sports massage, foam rollering) you are doing on a day to day basis, and note when you are taking a total rest day away from any type of athletic stimulus.

For everything you do, there must be an equal amount of rest or recovery. If you work too hard and don't rest enough, you will pay.
If you rest too much and don't work enough, you won't get fit.

But remember, Everything costs something. In the end, everyone must pay the price of rest for the work they do. Taking small chunks of intelligent rest throughout the months will make it far less likely that you will have to take an enforced layoff when your body tells you "that is enough" and decides to take you out of it completely, be that from injury or overtraining.

No comments:

Post a Comment