Unfortunately, one of the rest days arrived as the result of a minor injury. Last Tuesday, I strained my left pectoral muscle from either not executing proper form during a push-up sprint or gripping the ballet bar and leaning back a bit too during a “waterski” sprint at Physique57. By Wednesday night’s “UFX Burn” class at New York Sports Club, every amped-up inhalation during our high intensity cardio drill and each rep of standing reverse flies were pretty painful. So after icing the area and popping a couple of ibuprofen before bed that night, I took Thursday off. I even stayed away from the elliptical because I knew using the arm handles would or gripping the side bars too tight would have put unnecessary stress on my tweaked muscle. By Friday afternoon’s Physique class, I felt 90% better. After enjoying another gal-pal catch-up day on Saturday, I decided to extend my rest time to cover the entire weekend. In the end, I tallied four workouts in a seven day period. While that’s less than my typical five to six, you know what? My body is much happier on this Monday morning thanks to the extra TLC.
If you’re prepping for a competition or if you’re a serious bodybuilder, I understand there’s a strict schedule to follow to make gains in a certain amount of time. However, if you’re on a new health and fitness kick or if you’re like me and you’ve been attacking your workouts at 125% to get through a rough patch in your life, it’s not a bad idea to pause for a moment and remember rest is a crucial component to improving your well-being. Whether you’re a runner, strength-training class or Zumba addict, it’s actually the rest days that allow those amazing muscles in your body to recover and grow.
The bottom line is by not taking at least one rest day each week, you can put yourself at risk for overtraining. When you overtrain, the body is more prone to injury and instead of enjoying the typical endorphin rush from a great workout, you could find yourself feeling more tired than usual. Here’s a checklist of overtraining symptoms:
- Amenorrhea (when a woman stops getting her monthly period)
- Overuse or stress-related injuries (e.g. stress fractures, tennis elbow and runner’s knee)
- Increased resting heart rate
- Slower recovery of heart rate
- Decrease in strength performance
- Constant muscle pain or soreness when moving, bordering on pain
Remember, taking a rest day doesn’t mean you’re being lazy. It only means you’re giving your body the strength it needs to get back in the game so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!