Take a break Sandy Springs!
I was talking to one of my clients at Corrective Chiropractic – Sandy Springs the other day, an elite level CrossFit athlete, about the value of rest days in your weekly workout regimen. He told me that rest days make him feel weak. Especially the day after words and that he felt like he didn’t get anything accomplished on the days that he rested. He explained that now, for example, on “rest days” he only does back squats, double unders, works on his heavy cleans and runs five miles.
That is not a rest day! Scheduling days off or “rest days” is essential to allow your body to heal, strengthen and regenerate. The truth is, by taking days off and allowing your mind and body to rest you will increase your ability to become stronger and fit. By not taking “rest days” you run the risk of burning yourself out physically and mentally and possibly injuring yourself. In that case, you wouldn’t have the choice to rest or not, so why don’t you just do it to begin with and save yourself the trouble.
For all of you work out junkies out there! Here are some of the benefits of having rest days and depending on fitness level how long you should be resting for.
Resting Helps Prevent Injury – Like I mentioned earlier if you decide not to have rest days you run the risk of injuring yourself, but why? Overuse is a term that is sometimes forgotten when you are trying to reach your goals. Your muscles, ligaments, joints and organs need a break every once and a while. When certain areas of your body are not functioning at 100% that leads to compensation. When a muscle, ligament or joint is pushed past it’s ability to compensate you have injuries.
Your Mind Plays Tricks on You – Even though you may feel weaker after a rest day it actually takes almost two weeks of non-activity for your performance level to start decreasing. That first day back after even one week may feel awful but you will see that your ability is exactly where you left off.
Staggering is Key – Just the simple fact that people stagger their workouts so they are not working the same muscles day after day proves the fact that muscles need rest. It is a fact that while lifting weights you are essentially tearing muscle fibers. It is the repairing and rebuilding of those muscle fibers that occurs during periods of rest that allow them to increase in strength and durability.
Don’t Redline – What repairs your body after all the micro trauma from lifting weights, your immune system! Your immune system also has another very important function, keeping you healthy. Without proper rest your immune system gets overworked and will not be able to repair all of the damage you are doing to yourself by exercising. This leads to exceeding the capacity of a certain muscle group and/or compensation which both end in injury.
How often you should rest and the duration of the rest period depends on several factors. Your age, fitness level, severity of the workout, routine, and history of injury. I work with high level athletes that need very little time to rest. This does not mean that they are impervious to injury though. These athletes are pushing their bodies to the limit and the amount of recovery work that they need to sustain this high level is sometimes two to three times more than the actual time spent working out.