It’s ok…go ahead and rest.
When it comes to injury prevention and recovery, rest is highly underrated. The body is not a static system but an incredibly dynamic organism that is constantly going through periods of breakdown and rebuilding. Regardless of the type of stress applied to this complex system, one thing is certain; the importance of rest cannot be overlooked. Lets look at a few examples of how rest can be incredibly important for both athletic development and injury recovery, especially as we head toward the more sunny, and (hopefully) physically active seasons.
In terms of health and athletic development, strength and endurance training is a pivotal portion of any individual’s physical development. Although different types of training will require different lengths and qualities of the rest, one rule applies to all scenarios – the magic happens when we rest. When we exercise, we stress our bodies in a variety of ways. Our heart pumps harder and fatigues to meet oxygen demands. Our muscles stretch and develop microscopic tears (thank you, soreness!) that must repair.
Now, in order for our bodies to grow and reach a higher level of tolerance than before, several needs must be met. The big two are 1.) adequate nutrition (building blocks), and 2.) sufficient rest. If insufficient time is not allotted to allow our muscles and other organ systems to recover, we flirt with “over-training”, or overstress our system, which can lead to all sorts of problems, such as injury.
Odds are, as the weather improves and going outside is no longer dangerous (brrrrr!), many will start playing sports, training and stressing their bodies much harder than during the colder seasons. Unfortunately, with a sudden increase in stress often comes elevated risk for injury.
Should an injury develop this season, don’t forget to try the “RICE” method first. As a review (and possibly news to some), RICE refers to proper steps in acute injury management for most low-mid grade musculoskeletal problems and stands for 1.) REST 2.) Ice 3.) Compression and 4.) Elevation. Right out of the gate, rest, and more specifically the removal of painful and stressful stimuli, is essential for the body to recover and rebuild. In addition to using the RICE method following injury, talk to a Physical Therapist, who can give you personal advice on how to get better faster.
So this Spring and Summer, after a good, hard workout, or when nursing a wound, be sure to REST and let your body catch up with your ambitions. Your body will thank you for it!
Greg Dixon, PT, DPT