Do you take rest and recovery days?
When hearing these two words, most people think they are the same thing, however they have different purposes for the body. In the fitness realm, most people think that rest or recovery days will prevent them from reaching their gains. The "no pain, no gain" or "rest is for the weak" mantras get thrown around. However, rest and recovery days are critical to allow your body to repair and your mind to reset so you can come back stronger. These rest and recovery days can be quite important for your long-term health, mentally and physically.
Think about it like hitting the slopes 5 days in a row and not taking any rest days after, and then hitting a grueling CrossFit workout because you need to "stay on track". Your body will most definitely be hurting. It would be more beneficial to take a rest day or two to let your body recover after those long mountain days, focusing on hydration and mobility, maybe doing some light movement, then going back to the gym. This will prevent injury and overuse of the muscles.
With a lot of the things in our life, our bodies can't keep trucking along without being refueled or taking time to repair and reset. Rest and recovery are essential for our bodies to stay healthy and perform their best, especially in the long term.
What's going on when we train?
When you use weights or resistance to train, your muscles are experiencing tiny microscopic tears with every contraction of the muscles. If you are running or doing aerobic capacity-type workouts like skiing or snowboarding, these train different muscles and work your ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles. However, in both cases, you are using your muscles to some extent, which in return, requires rest and recovery.
Taking rest days following tough lifting workouts, allows the muscles to be put back together and be rebuilt. Making sure you are consuming enough calories, specifically protein, this can increase this process and support recovery.
If you train for 7 days straight, even 6 days straight, your muscles are tearing constantly, and they are not given any time to repair and rebuild.
This can increase your chances of injury or overuse of certain muscles, which can result in injury. Taking a day or two within the week to have a full rest day or an active recovery day incorporates recovery within your exercise plan.
If you are newer to exercising, resting more could be beneficial because your body is not used to this type of stress. With the new amount of strain on the body, the body needs time to ease into training, so taking more rest days in the beginning as your body gets more comfortable with training can support your long-term goals.
What about recovery days?
So rest days are seen as full rest. Doing stretching, mobility, and body work might be incorporated, but no true exercise. Recovery days are just as important as full rest days, because your body might need some extra support to rebuild and put the muscles back together. This might include muscle treatment including foam rolling, sports massage, muscle guns, scrapers, floss tape, etc. Other recovery activities might include walking, swimming, using a sauna/steam room, and doing low heart rate zone exercise (jogging/biking). All these are meant to limit the stress on the body and further support recovery.
Although many people might see rest and recovery days as useless, they both have their importance in a well-rounded training regime. Taking a day or two off training will be significantly beneficial to your long-term health, keep your body healthy, and allow you to explore movement and activities outside of training! We want you to stay on the mountain and keep going through the seasons, so take the rest day!