Whether you are a veteran athlete or a newbie on the block, you will have heard your fair share of opinions on the role of massage, ice baths and other recovery tricks of the trade. But how far do you go to optimise your recovery and is there any value to working as hard at rest as you do in performance.
Physiologically, all methods are thought to assist muscle repair and the promotion of nutrient delivery to exhausted tissues. The degree to which different methods actually do this is solely dependent on the athlete.
The rough and tough among us may opt to not rest at all claiming it’s not necessary and the only way for the body to prepare is to push through pain and exhaustion. While others live by the 5 days on 2 days off regime. Whichever line of thought you follow will largely be determined by the type of athlete you are and your chosen activity.
Medically, we promote rest days to aid recovery and limit the risk of injury development both from overuse and exhaustion. Very often traumatic injuries occur due to lack of focus or poor concentration while overuse injuries stem from doing too much forcing your body to keep up with stress that exceeds its limits. These injuries are the sort that can take months to recover from – bone and tendon injuries predominantly.
Psychologically, the recovery tools are phenomenal. The change in heart rate, oxygen consumption and general alertness leads to changes in your metabolism which aids muscle tissue repair and strength development. You become aware of every skin sensation and physical response to the touch or temperature of the treatment. Your body is the only focus for that period of time – something that the rat race does not support.
Massage and ice baths, to name a few, are considered active recovery but do require some planning as the aftereffects will keep you off the road or out of the gym for at least 24 hours. Also, different types of massage will have different effects on the body. Pre-event, post-event/recovery or relaxation are the terms you will hear most often. Give each of them a try and see how your body and mind respond to each unique treatment.
Forgoing the rest day will not get you any closer to achieving a goal – if anything it puts that goal at massive risk!
If you have any questions relating to this article or want to book in for a massage or injury assessment call 01279 414 959 to book online at https://www.zesty.co.uk/practices/mike-varney-physiotherapy