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February 13, 2012 / Sarah

The importance of rest

Rest and recovery (r&r), something that many athletes, gym goers and fitness enthusiasts don’t fully understand the importance of until they find themselves injured. Injured or not making progress despite their strong efforts. R&R is critical in terms of sports performance.

Psychology for athletes is very complex as many coaches will drill the ‘train harder, train more and become better’ approach into their minds at an early age. I did both varsity soccer and cross country my freshmen year, I would be working out between 3-5 hours 6 days a week. Looking back I’m not sure how I managed it. In the end I did get injured but not until the season was almost over. I pushed my body hard and didn’t give it anything back in return. In my mind I thought that if I pushed through fatigue, I would become stronger, I would be better. I’m now aware that is the wrong mindset, too bad it took this many years to figure out.

During exercise muscle tissue breaks down and glycogen stores are depleted. The human body can only go so long without proper re-fueling and rest. When we rest, our bodies are able to replenish these lost stores and build back damaged muscle tissue. This process is only capable with adequate rest. Without rest our bodies continue to break down muscle tissue which if done for a long period of time can lead to decreased performance and/or injury.

Rest days are very important both physically and mentally. Physically rest days are when our bodies can do the best job at replacing those lost glycogen stores and repairing muscle tissue. Mentally they can provide us time to gain back focus and spend time doing other things we enjoy that we may not typically have time for.

Active recovery is also an important part of growing stronger. After intense exercise we should use active recovery to help cool down our bodies, instead of just stopping or immediately stretching. Active recovery is low intensity/low impact exercise. You can also do it on your day’s off from training, activities such as walking or light yoga. Who doesn’t enjoy a cup of coffee and a walk with a close friend? Don’t lie to me.


YES, but only with proper recovery. Source.

My tips to recover more efficiently:

  1. Eat protein and carbs post workout, use the intensity of your workout and how you are feeling to help decide how much of both.
  2. Make sure you are drinking lots of water throughout the day.
  3. Stretch and cool down after exercise. Foam rolling is amazing and helps to loosen up tight muscles.
  4. Try yoga.
  5. Ice. Using ice can also help reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
  6. Make sure your sleeping well and enough. If your not waking up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to go your most likely not getting adequate sleep
  7. Take rest days, both planned and unplanned. Don’t be afraid to take a day off if your just not feeling it. I’m not saying you just don’t feel like going, but if you really can’t get yourself mentally into it and it would just be a miserable training session then by all means do some active recovery and re-focus for the next day. Missing one session isn’t going to make or break you in the long run if it’s what your body needs.


Enjoy your day and thank you for reading 🙂

What are some of your tips/tricks for a more efficient recovery?



Leave a Comment
  1. lifttorun / Feb 13 2012 8:17 pm

    Great post! Rest is important, but it is one of those things where it is easier said than done.

    • Sarah / Feb 16 2012 1:09 pm

      Thanks lovely! I agree, easier said than done unfourtunately!

  2. Tiff / Feb 14 2012 1:58 pm

    I have a rest day tomorrow. Though I always feel a wee bit guilty about some rest days, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to it. 😉

    • Sarah / Feb 16 2012 1:10 pm

      Haha rest days are nice to look forward do but it’s also one of those things that if you look forward to them TOO much something might be off in your training if your getting to tired/fatigued of just flat out sick of it!

  3. allieksmith / Feb 14 2012 8:14 pm

    I love this post. I wish I could make some bloggers read this because it is just SO important to take rest days! Gah! Anyways, I loved the tips at the end too!

    • Sarah / Feb 16 2012 1:11 pm

      Thanks girl! I agree, SO important and SO misunderstood!

  4. paleorunnergirl / Feb 15 2012 1:02 am

    I need to print this post out! I used to be AWFUL at taking rest days but now I know just how important it is for our bodies to recover! I run so much better when I give my muscles time to repair. However, I love your tips because I have a tendency to be VERY antsy on rest days! I need to dive back into yoga–it is a perfect rest day activity! P.S. I love your blog!!

    • Sarah / Feb 17 2012 3:09 pm

      Rest days can cause people to be so antsy/anxious which is awful because it’s so important. We are def our own worst enemies! I’m glad you realize the importace of rest my girl 🙂 Yoga is amaze! Thank you!

  5. Meg / Feb 15 2012 11:51 am

    great post, love 🙂 I definitely love “unplanned” rest days. Thanks for talking about those too. I think people have a real issue taking those, but seriously – THEY ARE OK! Listen to your body!

    P.s. I was planning on doing a rest day post, guess you beat me to it!

    Great minds think alike???????????

    • Sarah / Feb 16 2012 1:12 pm

      Thanks pretty lady! Yes, THEY ARE OK! LOL!

      Great minds totally think alike, your right :))

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