If you find when to rest or not to rest confusing you are not alone. For so long we have interchanged the words rest and recovery that they have become synonymous. Let's take a quick look at the difference between rest & recovery and managing your rest IN your recovery.
Rest is to refrain from activity.
Recovery is return to a state. In the case of training we will say return to a ready state for activity.
Think of rest as a technique or tool you give your body to recover.
Can you overdue rest and negatively impact your recovery?
Absolutely. Rest creates a cycle of disuse which can lower your abilities overtime. Prolonged rest is atrophy. Let us not forget that it is not just the soft tissue that atrophies but also skills. Motor skills are perishable and must be trained to maintain!
Doesn't rest let me heal and recover?
The devil is in the details on this one. Yes, after tissue trauma you want to allow time for healing and not provoke further irritation and cause a cycle of inflammation. However, loading and moving the tissue is what signals to the surrounding cells how to heal it. For example a scar is non-directional collagen and it becomes very stiff. Training signals to the collagen which direction to build and tempers the stiffness when done intelligently.
If it feels inflamed don't I need to rest? This is where client education is so important. If someone believes that movement and exercise will create inflammation they are less likely to participate even if it does help them return to a state of activity. Often the feeling of inflammation is mislabeled and should be called nociceptive which is the sensation of pain. It is not unusual for someone to have pain and there not be inflammation present.
Sidenote: Isometrics which is contraction without joint motion has potential to reduce inflammation.
I'm confused. When do I rest? Sleep! Sleep is one of the most powerful recovery tools that repairs tissue, organizes information from our day, and is our built in recovery! We should get somewhere between 7-10 hours of sleep within every 24 hours. We don't always need additional rest during the day but rather a variety of movements at various intensities and lengths of time. This is also a form of recovery called active recovery.