Rest is kind of like stretching, it won’t get you in shape, but it is essential if you want to stay in shape.
Rest and sleep is when your body remodels itself and recovers from the stresses of exercise and daily life. If you don’t get enough rest or sleep, you will be more prone to injury.
Rest improves recovery, decreases inflammation, boosts energy, decreases soreness, improves strength, and improves immune function.
I work on many high level athletes, from professionals to those who are aspiring to be professionals. One aspect of training I always go over with all athletes, is rest. I always make sure that everyone takes at least one full day off per week of exercise. And those who are not high level athletes need to take more than 1 day off per week from exercise.
Many young, aspiring professional athletes will work out with their coaches or teams 5 to 6 days a week. Then on their 1 to 2 days off from their team or other training, they want to get ahead. So they will go into the gym to get a little stronger or a little more endurance on their day or days off. This is a bad mistake.
A well trained athlete needs at least 1 day off per week from any type of exercise. Someone who is in not as good of shape needs to take more days off per week from any exercise and physical activity.
If you do not take enough time off from exercise, your body and muscles will not be able to recover properly. Exercise causes microscopic tears to the muscle fibers. Tearing these muscle fibers is what causes post exercise muscle soreness. As we age it takes us longer and longer to recover from these tiny, microscopic injuries.
These tiny injuries to the muscle fibers eventually cause inflammation and irritation in the muscles themselves. The muscles will tighten up slowly as the irritation progresses. If you are not doing anything to help your muscles recover, then the muscles will eventually get so tight and irritated that they will be primed to tear and become injured/ sprained/ strained/ pulled. A muscle tear is the same thing as a muscle pull, a muscle strain and a muscle sprain.
It just makes sense that the more tight and irritated a muscle is, the more easily injured it will be. That is why in sports, the non contact injuries are usually the worst injuries.
I once worked on a fullback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. This guy had the largest, thickest, strongest calves that I have ever seen. He was solid. He was 5’8” and weighed 250, and he wasn’t fat at all. He came into my office after he stepped into a hole he didn’t see and he tore his calf. How could someone who was so strong and in such good shape tear his calf by misstepping into a hole in the ground?
The reason was that his calf was super tight and irritated to begin with. He was over trained. This occurred during training camp when players are trying to get back into shape after the off season. They are pushing themselves hard in order to make the team. Training camp is very hard on the players. It is debatably the physically hardest time of the football season. It is easy for players to get over trained during this period.
This is an extreme example of overtraining. If you haven’t exercised in years and start exercising it is easy to get over trained with only exercising 4 days a week, or even less depending on how intense you go.
If you go from not exercising at all to lifting weights 2 to 3 times a week along with 2 to 3 days a week of aerobic exercise, you can easily become over trained and injure yourself. I find that if someone is doing too much activity, it usually takes 4 to 8 weeks for it to catch up with them. That is usually when the over training catches up with them and they get injured.
That is why you have to start out easy with exercising. You have to start out too easy. You have to get yourself into shape to exercise. You can’t just jump into hard core exercise. If you do you will only injure yourself.
The Pain Free Lifestyle program takes you step by step from not exercising for years to being able to exercise with intensity and consistency.
Consistency is the most important component to exercise. You will never get any benefits from exercise if you can’t be consistent with it. You can’t exercise with consistently if you are injured.
You will get more benefits from low intensity walking 3 times a week for 20 minutes for the rest of your life than you would from exercising hard core for 6 weeks and then stopping for another 8 weeks then exercising again. Consistency is key.
Injury will prevent you from exercising consistently and from benefitting from exercise.
Prevent injury from derailing you from exercising and feeling good. Exercise intelligently to prevent injury. Exercise smarter, not just harder. It is the Pain Free Way.
Here is a link to another article that I wrote about the importance of rest and recovery.
The following is another article with more information on rest and recovery: