by Carlton Ryan
For cycling enthusiasts, the mindset is always “more, more, more.” However, this attitude is far from wise, especially when it comes to rest and recovery. As it turns out, the body requires time to adequately recover from intense exercise. Going all out, all the time is neither feasible nor worthwhile. Periods of rest are vital. Read on for the five important reasons why recovery days are an absolute must.
- Muscles need a break. When muscles are worked, they suffer tiny tears. As the tears heal, the muscle becomes stronger. That’s how muscle growth occurs; those tiny tears are actually extremely beneficial. However, it still takes time for the muscle to repair itself. Periods of rest are thus necessary to gain strength and get bigger muscles.
- More energy. Working out too often inevitably results in fatigue. Fatigue reduces performance, which is especially a problem for athletes. Exhaustion doesn’t just hamper your workouts, though. Lethargy can also make you less productive and happy in other areas of life. Severe overtraining can even disrupt sleep and make you feel as if you are sick. Exercise should make you feel better, not worse.
- Injury recovery. As good for you as exercise is, it also places the body under heavy strain. Time off is needed for the body to repair itself. Otherwise, the body never has the chance to catch up to the harm caused by workouts. While major injuries require medical care, the best cure for minor injuries is generally rest. A recovery day will often cure a nagging injury that has been lingering for weeks.
- Injury prevention. Besides aiding injury recovery, rest days are crucial to preventing injuries from occurring in the first place. Tired, strained muscles are much more likely to suffer serious injuries. Only rest can solve this problem. Recovery time is also needed for the avoidance of repetitive stress injuries (such as tendinitis and stress fractures), which stem for overuse and overtraining.
- More enjoyable exercise. Do too much of anything and you’ll end up hating it. Even fitness fanatics will eventually experience burnout if they never take breaks. After a recovery day you’ll return to your routine with renewed enthusiasm and joy. Motivation will come much more easily. For competitive athletes, regaining their hunger for top performance is especially important.
Having a recovery day doesn’t mean you should sit on the couch all day. The best way help your body bounce back is to engage in active recovery. So, take definite steps to aid your body’s recuperation. Stretching muscles (especially sore ones), doing yoga, using a foam roller, practicing self massage, eating well, and getting plenty of good sleep are all things that will help tremendously.