As sports medicine evolves and information sharing becomes more efficient, both highly paid athletes as well as the everyday gym goer are starting to better understand the importance of rest and recovery. We are seeing professional athletes like Tom Brady and LeBron James have extremely productive performances even after decades of wear and tear on their bodies. This can be attributed to many factors, such as more complex strength and conditioning programs as well as very strict eating habits, but rest and recovery definitely play their part.
As we look at recovery, we must define what it is as it relates to exercise. First of all, we need to realize that our body seeks homeostasis, or balance, within all of its various systems. When we exercise, we introduce stress to the body which interrupts that balance. Our body seeks to adapt to this stress in different ways until the stress goes away, at which point the body recovers as it settles back into homeostasis. When done correctly, the recovery process will allow the body’s various adaptations to stress to turn into the physiological results we are seeking.
However, if recovery is not executed properly, we may start to see detrimental effects on our bodies immune and hormonal system, as well as injuries from overtraining. Bottom line – when we rest and recover, we repair our bodies to be better and stronger than they were before. If we do not rest and recover, we do not get the rebuild that we are looking for.
My advice is to allow at least one, if not two, rest days each week. Take the necessary steps to get eight quality hours of sleep each night if possible, drink plenty of water and experiment with different recovery methods such as massage, cryotherapy, and hydrotherapy. Listen to your body and do what works for you!