You are working so hard to accomplish your goal of running your first half marathon, participating in your first triathlon, or getting your first pull up since grade school. You get on a role and you finally feel like you are getting somewhere. Your long run on the weekend is getting easier, riding your bike up that big hill isn’t quite as hard anymore, and you are down to using the smallest band to assist your pull up. Then things start to hurt. Your right knee hurts every time you run up hill, your left shoulder is hurting in between rides, and your neck hurts any time you reach or lift over your head.
There are plenty of factors that play into injury, but one of the easiest things to correct is proper rest and recovery. For many of us it can be something that is hard to incorporate when we feel like we are making such great training progress.
Rest? I don’t want to lose any of my strength that I’ve worked so hard for!
Study after study has shown that incorporating rest into our training actually allows for more gain and helps reduce injury. The actual amount of rest can depend on the athletes training status (trained vs. untrained) and individual’s ability to deal with physical, emotional, and psychological stressors.
Rest allows the body to recover between workouts. Recovery occurs when your body returns to its normal metabolic state. Your body must remove metabolic waste from your muscles (lactate and hydrogen ions) re-establish intramuscular blood flow for oxygen delivery, and regain muscle membrane potential (the ability to contract).
The greater the stress of the workout, the greater the overall muscle recruitment, and the greater the potential for muscle damage and soreness, therefore the need for longer recovery time. When a muscle group becomes sore, damaged, and fatigued it is unable to work at it’s full potential. This leads to muscles imbalances and changes in form, which puts an athlete at risk for overuse injuries.
Every athlete is different and incorporating rest into a training schedule can look different depending on several factors. Your ability to recover efficiently will be influenced by your amount of muscle soreness and weakness, your efficiency as an athlete, your appetite, your immune system, your sleep habits, and your digestion. Working on improving all of these factors will help you recover faster, decrease your required rest time, and maximize your gains during training.
The specific plan of rest and recovery may vary. Listen to your coaches and trainers, and follow the schedule that has been laid out for you. Most plans will incorporate 1-2 days of rest after several days of lighter training, and 1-2 days of rest after heavy training session.
Injuries may still occur even if you are extremely diligent with your training habits. That is where the team at ESSM comes in. It is important to get treatment early. At ESSM we use advanced soft tissue work like Active Release Techniques™, Graston and dry needling. We also incorporate chiropractic adjustments, kinesio-taping, rehabilitation exercise programs and massage therapy. Our goal is to get our patients back to full function as quickly as possible and teach the tools they need to stay better and accomplish their training goals.