If you exercise on a regular basis, it is important to give your body some time off to recover. The human body can take only so much physical activity. If you go hard during your workouts without sufficient time off, you will inevitably endure an injury of some sort.
Change how You Think About Recovery
It is time to start thinking about a day off from exercise as just as important as the days you spend exercising. You might feel as though you are “cheating” when you take a day or two off from the gym. However, you are also cheating your body when you do not spend enough time resting and relaxing.
View your rest day as an opportunity for your body to bounce back to 100 percent. This recovery period is essential to your well-being as well as your ability to perform during your next exercise session. So don't think of your day off from the gym as a lazy day in which you vegetate on the couch. Think of this downtime as a means of preparing your body for the next physical challenge.
Orchestrate Your Recovery
Spend some time planning your workouts as well as your recovery. If you are sore, have a strained muscle or swelling, figure out the types of recovery tools that will improve your specific ailment. Whether it is a wrap, pain patch, ice compression therapy, time in the jacuzzi or massage therapy, your treatment modality is of the utmost importance. If you don't use the proper treatment, your body will suffer the consequences. Your ailment could worsen to the point that it prevents you from working out. Don't let that happen! Carefully plan your injury treatment, devote the time necessary to recuperate and your body will recover as quickly as possible.
If you feel general soreness, you are not alone. A demanding workout often renders the entire body sore and fatigued. Maybe you have several “knots” that need to be worked out. One of the best ways to refresh your body is with foam rolling. This treatment uses deep compression to “roll out” muscle tightness, spasms, soreness and imbalances that accumulate over time. The compression causes the nerves to relax and loosens up those fatigued muscles, allowing blood to flow freely. Combine foam rolling with other treatment modalities as necessary for a thorough recovery.
The Components of Proper Recovery
Aside from the treatment modalities mentioned above, recovery is also comprised of sufficient sleep, proper hydration, a balanced diet, stretching, stress management and even subtleties like posture. Many exercise aficionados are adamant that recovery even extends to nuances like the time spent standing, lying down and sitting. It is clear that recovery means much more than simply letting muscles repair themselves.
True recovery encompasses hormonal balance, chemical balance, mental balance and even nervous system repair. Much of this recovery and balance can be achieved by relaxing on your off days from the gym. Spend some time enjoying life and your body's bounce-back will hasten, allowing you to mentally and physically prepare for your next demanding workout.
Recovery Boosts Exercise Performance
If you are still on the fence as to whether rest and recovery are truly important, consider the fact that sufficient time away from the gym improves exercise performance. Think about the last time you hit the gym on back-to-back days. It was probably a tough second day. In some instances it is necessary to take more than one day off, especially if you are in your golden years. Allow your body enough time to recover and you will find that your next exercise session is not nearly as difficult to complete. Your body will be refreshed to the point that you can run at your top speed and lift with all your might.
Accept That Recovery is Necessary
If you do not think of rest and recovery as a necessary process, it is time to change your mindset. Allowing your body ample time to return to its normal state is something you must accept in order to maximize your physical fitness potential. Otherwise, you will push yourself so hard that you end up injured or become so fatigued that you can't reach your fitness goals. The last thing you want is to plateau. Implement ample time for rest and you will continue your gradual progression toward your peak physical shape.
The moral of the story is to give yourself a break every now and then. We all need to recharge for what lies ahead. After all, your body will always require conditioning. There is a good chance you will still be exercising in your golden years. Learn and apply the proper recovery techniques and your body will stay in tip-top shape, making it possible to exercise even when you are an octogenarian.