Rest Day - Are You Doing It Wrong?
Whether you’re a yogi, crossfitter, runner or rock climber, there’s one thing we all have in common... no matter how “in shape” you might be, you still inevitably need to take rest days.
Before I lose those of you that hate hearing more about rest days, I'm going to let you in on a little secret... I hate taking them too. It wasn't until I had a few minor injuries that I began to really start incorporating it into my weekly regimen. However, I still wasn't enjoying rest OR making the most of it.
I’d argue that your negative perception of rest (and also mine), probably stems from the fact that you’re doing it wrong! So, how can we change our attitudes in a positive way and conquer the daunting task of ‘doing nothing’? Well, that's just it... we aren't going to do ‘nothing’ at all! In fact, we’re going to continue kicking ass, even on our rest days.
Here are a few tips you can implement to come out of your rest day feeling like the BEST possible version of yourself.
Priority #1: Nutrition
Real talk….Would you say that you eat “properly” on your rest days?
I find that I typically go to one of the 2 extremes. Either I undereat and pretend that not exercising means my body doesn't really need very much food, or I binge eat and justify it by saying that it's my “lazy day” and “one day a week won’t kill me”.
Maybe this is just me… but I really don’t think I’m alone in this. Both extremes can be detrimental to your physical and mental health.
Stating the obvious, overeating and/or undereating isn’t good for your body no matter what day of the week it is, but it’s actually even worse for you to do on your rest days. Why? Because the time spent out of the gym (or off the pavement) is the time when your body is actually building itself back up and, as a result, helping you come back stronger and faster than you were before.
Growing up my mom always said, garbage in = garbage out. Granted she was talking about bad language and surrounding myself with bad influences, but the same goes for your nutrition. If the days your body is supposed to be resting and rebuilding are spent eating poorly then you’re only sapping yourself further and wasting the gain you made during the week.
So, how should you eat on your rest days? Simple! Listen to your body, focus on the 3 primary macronutrients (proteins, carbs, and healthy fats) and fuel it with enough of the good foods it needs.
- If it grows from the earth, it’s probably a pretty good option (fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc).
- If the ingredients on the label contain a bunch of words you can hardly pronounce, try to find something that's labeled with pronounceable ingredients.
Priority #2: Movement
More often than not, you’re probably sore and/or tired on your rest days. As you should be! You put in tons of hard work during the week and your body is literally telling you to chill out!
So, should you listen to your body? It’s tempting to sit your booty on the couch all day and cruise through Netflix. Or should you tell your body to “get over it” and try to still get a recovery run, hike, or some other activity in?
I mean what kind of oxymoron is an “active rest day” anyways?
I’ve found over the years that there are 2 things I can prioritize on my rest days to keep my body moving, but also not overdo it.
1. Rolling Out - Self Myofascial Release:
- For me, rolling out is an absolute must in the mornings. After I get dressed for the day, I head straight for my RAD Axle, Helix, and Recovery Rounds and hit the ground rolling, so to speak. I typically spend 30 minutes rolling on my rest days and there are the 3 main areas I focus on. Spend about 10 minutes in each section of your body or until you feel that you have completed the region.
- Back With Axle: First I grab the Axle and roll my back from top to bottom in small increments. I like to throw my arms over my head and really get a nice stretch in while I do this. (almost guaranteed to get some yummy snap, crackle, and pops).
- Back With Helix: After about 2 minutes using the Axle, I switch to the Helix and do the same thing. Why? Because the Axle is a larger tool and a bit less intense, I like to warm-up with it and then move on to the Helix and feel a slightly deeper release.
- Hips with Helix: Once I’ve reached my lower back with the Helix, I almost always transition straight into my hips and glutes. As a runner, my TFL tends to get very tight which leads to back and hip pain on a regular basis. I spend about 3 minutes on each hip, performing slow flushing movements (rolling back and forth) as well as some point release (pausing on trigger points) on the areas where I feel some extra build-up.
- Shoulders With Recovery Rounds: I tend to carry extra tension in my lower neck, upper traps, and delt muscles. The Recovery Rounds are perfect for these areas! I spend about 3 minutes on each shoulder and once again, perform both flushing and point release techniques.
Once these three areas are taken care of, I spend another 5-10 minutes rolling other areas of my body, usually dependent on where I’m feeling sore and where I typically suffer from chronic discomfort.
2. Taking a Walk:
This requires a lot less explanation but is something that I always do on my rest days. I feel like it sets me up for success and really gets my energy flowing.
After I finish rolling out, I grab my shoes and hit the road for about 30-45 minutes. If you’re extremely goal-oriented like me, part of the reason rest days are mentally difficult is that I feel like I haven't reached all of my goals for the day.
So, set different goals! Setting a step goal for the day is a great way to ensure you still keep yourself motivated and keep your blood flowing efficiently. 8,000-12,000 steps is a healthy range for me, you just want to be sure you don’t overdo it.
Keep It Simple
All in all, your attitude towards rest days is totally dependent on your discipline for the day! You can STILL seize the day, even without conquering a challenging workout.
That’s all for today, folks. Time for me to get some steps in!