The Importance of Rest & Recovery

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If you are like me, a busy person in most areas of my life, I enjoy being active, and mentally I can sometimes struggle with the aspect of a rest or recovery day when it comes to training.

Don’t get me wrong- if it comes to a day off mum duties then I will sign up in a heartbeat! However, that is more of a case of mental rest over physical (to some extent) with having four young children.

Now, with training load and the periodisation aspects of a training plan – you will find that usually the coach will factor in 1 or even 2 rest days or “easier recovery” days per week or bi-weekly into the schedule. Why? Not because they’re going soft on you, but more because of both the physical and mental adaptations that come about from rest and recovery.

Rest can be defined as: “a combination of sleep and time spent not training, rest is the easiest to understand and implement. How you spend this time is very critical.

Recovery, however, refers to techniques and actions taken to maximize your body’s repair. These include hydration, nutrition, posture, heat, ice, stretching, massage, stress management, compression,

Recovery is multifaceted- it is far more than just muscle repair. It also involves chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair, mental state, and more.

Here are 5 common areas for maximising your rest and recovery, neurologically, nutritionally, and physiologically:

  1. Sleep is the most important time to recover. Adequate levels of sleep help to provide mental health, hormonal balance, and muscular recovery. You need to get enough sleep, which is between seven to ten hours for most athletes. Everyone has individual needs based on their lifestyle, workouts, and genetic makeup.

 2. Hydration

Drinking adequate amounts of water (1-3Litres p/day) is critical to health, energy, recovery, and performance. Athletes tend to be very attentive to hydration levels close to and during competitions. By keeping that awareness during training and recovery times can make just as large an impact. Water helps all of our bodily functions. 60-65% OF THE BODY IS MADE UP OF WATER – Improving hydration status will incur a more efficient nutrient uptake, lower levels of stress on the heart, improved skin tone, and improved digestion.

The simplest way to check hydration is to look at your pee. If it is clear to pale straw-colour then you are hydrated. The darker and more colour in your pee the less hydrated you are and more water you need to drink.

 3. Nutrition

Everything you eat will have the ability to help heal your body, or to poison it. This may sound strong, but alcohol and processed foods contain toxins and are harmful to the body. Without living like a Monk; eating clean, wholesome, and balanced meals in moderation is proven to be effective to remain healthy and increase performance.

Ensure that you are intaking adequate carbs and proteins into the diet to help support your glycogen (stored energy) as well as amino acids to help rebuild and strengthen the muscle fibers. It is good practice to review your periods of training blocks and up the intakes of protein and carbs on the weeks of more intensive / higher volume training sessions.

4. Stretching: You need flexibility to move well and remain pain free. Include dynamic stretching in your warm-ups while saving static stretching for after your workouts. Attempt to self-identify tight areas and work on them.

Yoga and Pilates are also a great tool for improving flexibility, core stability, and also mental relaxation techniques.

 5. Myofascial release and Massage

Tight muscles and trigger points sometimes need assistance to return to healthy normal tissue. Foam rolling and the new trend of Massage Guns are both useful tools in the home to use for injury prevention and also rehabilitation. For some video insight on foam massaging techniques click the link here:


Spending some additional time focusing on rest and recovery can pay dividends beyond additional training time. Dedicating additional time to your sleep, hydration, and nutrition will increase your overall ability to perform, decrease recovery time, and lower your risk of injury


The Importance of Sleep and Napping

In an ideal world, the best sleep requires no disturbances and a solid 7-9 hours per day…. I wish! Since having four children sleep pretty much goes out of the window for the first 9-12months, times this by four on the bounce = a very sleep deprived family.

However, I have been fortunate enough with my training and owning a business to be able to factor in a ‘nanny nap’ daily for 1-1.5 hrs. Its enough to just re-boost the system for the rest of my day and to catch up on lost sleep the previous night.

When it comes to exercise and performance, sleep is always playing a huge factor in how well you perform, recover, and risk any injury. There is a direct correlation between the amount of sleep an athlete gets to how they perform in both training and competition.

athlete nap

A study by Waterhouse, Atkinson et al, focussed on the “Role of a short post-lunch nap in improving cognitive, motor, and sprint performance in participants with partial sleep deprivation.” They performed a study whereby participants (athletes), had a nap after food and were tested 30mins post nap on their performances. Results showed that the non-control group showed improved alertness, sleepiness, short-term memory, and reaction times. Here are 10 benefits for why sleep is important:

Sleep Keeps Your Heart Healthy

Heart attacks and strokes are more likely to occur during the early morning hours, which may be due to the way sleep interacts with the blood vessels. Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Sleep May Help Prevent Cancer

Did you know that people who work the late shift have a higher risk of developing breast and colon cancer? Researchers believe light exposure reduces melatonin levels. Melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, is thought to protect against cancer as it appears to suppress the growth of tumours. Be sure that your bedroom is dark and avoid using electronics before bed in order to help your body produce the melatonin it needs.

Sleep Reduces Stress

When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress. The body’s functions are put on high alert, which causes high blood pressure and the production of stress hormones. High blood pressure increases your risk for heart attack and stroke, and the stress hormones make it harder to fall asleep.

Sleep Reduces Inflammation

Increased stress hormones (cortisol),caused by lack of sleep raises the level of inflammation in your body.This creates a greater risk for heart-related conditions, as well as cancer and diabetes. Inflammation is thought to cause the body to deteriorate as we age.

sleepSleep Makes You More Alert

A good night’s sleep makes you feel energized and alert the next day. Being engaged and active not only feels great but increases your chances for another good night’s sleep. When you wake up feeling refreshed, use that energy to get out into the daylight, do active things, and be engaged with your world.

Sleep Improves Your Memory

Researchers do not fully understand why we sleep and dream, but they have found that sleep plays an important role in a process called memory consolidation.3 During sleep, your body may be resting, but your brain is busy processing your day, making connections between events, sensory input, feelings, and memories. Deep sleep is a very important time for your brain to make memories and getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better.

Sleep May Help You Lose Weight

Researchers have found that people who sleep fewer hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. It is thought that a lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite.. The hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate appetite, have been found to be disrupted by lack of sleep.

Napping Makes You Smarter

Nighttime isn’t the only time to catch ​ZZZs. Napping during the day is an effective, refreshing alternative to caffeine that is good for your overall health and can make you more productive. People who nap at work show much lower levels of stress. Napping also improves memory, cognitive function, and mood.

Sleep May Reduce Your Risk of Depression

Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin. People with serotonin deficiencies are more likely to suffer from depression. You can help to prevent depression by making sure you are getting the right amount of sleep: between 7 -9 hours each night.

Sleep Helps the Body Repair Itself

Sleep is a time to relax, but it’s also a time during which the body is hard at work repairing damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays, and other harmful exposure. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair the damage.

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