Sunday, September 14, 2008

There are times that we are our own worst enemies, even when we are feeling the best. I'm talking about not resting when we need to. You can actually waste a wonderfully strong effort by not resting enough to get the strength benefit from it.

Everyone knows that when we exercise hard we tear down our muscles, there actually are microscopic tears all through our muscle tissue after a hard workout. But with the proper rest those muscles can recover and actually be stronger because they are adapting to the new stress we put on them.

The rest phase of the exercise cycle is when the actual improvement is happening. But when we don't allow proper rest after hard workouts we just continue to tear down till something bad happens. That something bad can be anything from catching a cold to a muscle strain to a stress fracture.

Now you may be thinking how can not resting after a couple of hard workouts give me a cold? A cold is a virus so what's the connection. The connection is that it's all all part of our immune system. The immune system handles a stress on our muscles the same way it handles an attack by a virus. When your body fights off a bug it builds anti bodies to make it stronger against the next time the bug attacks. Your body does basicly the same thing when it recovers from the stress of a hard workout. It makes the muscle stronger so the next time you do that workout you can handle it better.

Now here is the connection, if your immune system is mobilized to repair the muscle tears and you keep stressing them, then your immune system can't handle the ever present viruses as effectively.

We athletes and athletes to be, have a difficult task in keeping everything in balance. Not enough stress and we don't improve, not long enough stress and our endurance doesn't improve. But to much stress without recovery time and we start to break down our health. So how does a person keep everything running smoothly and continue to improve?

A few simple rules will help. If you have a PR, (personal record, ie.. doing a distance faster than ever before), the next day should be a rest day since you stressed your muscles more than ever before. The Orientals live by the theory of balance. A hard day should be followed by an easy day. Athletes like bodybuilders often workout everyday but they don't work the same muscles everyday, they will do upper body today and lower body the next, even then a smart bodybuilder will take one or two rest days a week for the whole body.

Muscles are made up of water, protien and magic. We need to make sure we eat enough good lean protien everyday for repair of the damage we caused and enouth water to keep our machinery well lubed. The magic is already there in our genes so that is out of our control.

When you do take a rest day, that's a good time to catch up the stretching you forgot to do during the week after your workouts or that you cut short for lack of time. If you have a stick or roller then this is the time to give them a workout. You can get rid of a lot of soreness with a good massage with your roller.

Resting Panda

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