National Fitness Recovery Day is dedicated to healthy recovery for hard-working athletes. Here is what to know about recovery, overtraining, and rest days so that you can get the most out of your training.
Why is recovery important?
Rest and recovery are essential to an athlete’s physical and mental well-being. It gives the body time to repair, rebuild, and strengthen between workouts. A healthy combination of training and recovery can improve your athletic performance and decrease your risk of injuries.
How often should my rest days be?
How often you take rest days depends on the type of exercise you are doing and the level of intensity, but you should be incorporating at least one rest day per week. Make sure that you are genuinely resting when your coach tells you to - it can be tempting to fit in another workout, but more isn’t always better. The best way to know if you should take a rest day is to listen to your body - if you’re feeling sick, exhausted, or are noticing changes in your mood, your body may be telling you to take a break. It’s also important to know the difference between soreness and pain - resting when you feel pain can keep a mild injury from becoming a major one.
How do I know if I’m overtraining?
When you push your body without proper recovery, you can overtrain and risk illness and injury. Some signs you may need a rest day are unusual muscle sourness that persists with continued training, inability to train or compete at a previously manageable level, performance plateaus or declines, weight or appetite loss, poor sleep, lack of motivation, and increased tension, anger, or confusion.
What should I do to recover?
There are things you can do to get the most out of your recovery. Focus on eating carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. These nutrients support recovery and restore your glycogen levels (the body’s main source of energy). Drinking a lot of water lubricates the muscles and joints, helps prevent muscle cramps, and delivers nutrients through the body. Doing low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or biking can help you stay active without stressing the body. Sleeping 7-9 hours improves mental sharpness, speed, and reaction time. Stretching or foam rolling reduces muscle soreness and improves range of motion and mobility. You can also try stress management techniques like mindfulness, visualization, or yoga.
How do I prevent overtraining? Some great ways to prevent overtraining are to keep a training log to track your workouts and how you feel each day, alternate hard and easy workout days, and balance training with recovery time.
Remember to be as intentional with your recovery as you are with your workout. Giving your body what it needs to recover is essential to reaching your health and fitness goals.