Long periods of active rest are optimal for recovery after long periods of intense training.
The season is now over for the Tigers and the Angels. The majority of MLB teams ended their grind a few days prior, with the close of the regular season. In my playing days, I started my offseason training programs the day I packed up my locker. In fact, as the days of the season dwindled, I clamored more and more to return to the weight pile. If I could press rewind, I would have taken substantial time off to allow my tissues to repair themselves. From the Huffington Post:
The “getting fitter” part -– the body’s response to that stimulus -– comes afterward. While you eat and rest, the body gets to work repairing tissue damage, strengthening the heart and other muscles, restoring depleted fuel reserves and getting better at transporting oxygen throughout the body, making itself a little more efficient and stronger than before. Then we go out and do it again.
By training carefully and modestly -– stressing the body to stimulate change, and then letting it recover and adapt -– we stack up these little adaptations one on top of the other until, lo and behold, we find ourselves fit enough to run a marathon, lift a heavier weight, or play the best basketball of our adult lives. The problem is that we usually don’t completely recover between workouts. Some of the fatigue stays with us, gradually accumulating during long periods of intense training dedicated to our favorite sport. Even as we get fitter and fitter, the mechanisms of recovery and adaptation begin faltering, putting us at risk for chronic exhaustion, difficulty sleeping and loss of motivation, evidenced in part by declining testosterone levels and increases in creatine kinase and urea.
This is more of a general overview of the benefits of recovery. It doesn’t speak directly to how beneficial multiple days or even weeks can be for our tissue repair. We recently discussed the benefits of a mental vacation, but how about a physical one for us workout enthusiasts? From bodybuilding.com:
The bottom line is that your body physically needs time off approximately every 8-10 weeks. Some individuals may need a recovery week more often than this and some less often, but 8-10 weeks is a good general guideline. I would rather err on the side of taking a recovery week too soon rather than waiting until I am completely overtrained. In this case, a week off may not be enough to let your body recover.
I’ve never been the best at this, and I know I’m not alone. There are men and women who are dying for time off from training and those who can’t stand it. I’m the latter. If you’re like me, it’s likely that you could use a longer rest than you think, particularly if your training has you a bit banged up.
One of our trainers from my Red Sox days, Mike Reinold, has a philosophy for pitchers that applies equally to us gym rats:
While strength and conditioning has been popularized over the last decade, manual therapy and arm care programs to get your body in shape PRIOR to beginning strength and condition may be even more important. This of it this way, take care of your body, work on your imbalances, clean up any lingering issues of tightness or soreness, and then get your body strong and ready to throw.
If we put it all together, it’s still fairly simple. We train, break our body down, rest, get healthy, start lifting again and become stronger than ever.
Take a vacation with me?