Why REST is not best for recovery!
REST is one of the most underrated factors when considering our training. Not to mention injury management. Often we are told to “rest” injuries. But this is both a vague and outdated thought. Yes, we need to slow down. But slowing down completely could result in more injuries down the track!
Generally, an injury occurs when your activity level exceeds your body’s ability to cope. Some common phrases I’m sure we have all heard revolve around the concepts of “too much too soon” or too fast too soon”.
What these comments are referring to is your tissues tolerance levels. Tissues are our muscles, joints, bones, and ligaments. When we undertake exercise or a new activity, if we stress these tissues too much, they break down and cause injury. Simply put, our bodies can not cope with the stress that we place them under, and they breakdown – Injury! This is a simplistic view of how injuries occur. Please keep in mind this does apply to traumatic injuries, such as a fall resulting in a break.
So, we have sustained an injury and now have been told to REST, so you can heel. So how does too much rest cause an injury?
Before we delve into the WHY.. We need to ensure we are differentiating between REST and RECOVERY:
REST Vs RECOVERY:
Rest: is time spent not exercising. This can include sleeping, reading a book, meditating. It can be anything you want. With the main idea of keeping your heart rate and therefore your intensity low. This is when your body is working to regenerate itself and heal your injury.
RECOVERY: Is correctly known as “active recovery”. Here we participate in low-intensity activities. This form of recovery is targeted at relieving muscle soreness, improving flexibility, and restoring energy levels. Here you may want to participate in cross-training activities. Things like swimming, cycling, walking, or a light yoga class. Keep in mind, an active recovery should not be something we are participating in because we are trying to avoid rest.
The HOW Rest can lead to Injury
When we injure our body, we need SOME rest. This allows our tissues to heal, and relieve symptoms. While this is happening, the tolerance level of your tissues also decreases. This means that when you do return to exercise, your tissue capacity will be reduced, and the chance of another injury a far greater. This can result in people going through a rollercoaster ride of rest and injury, rest and injury, etc. You can imagine how frustrating and demoralizing this can be.
How to avoid the Rollercoaster ride of Re Injury.
To avoid this rollercoaster of rest and injury, a graded and specific rehabilitation program is essential. If this is performed correctly, and your tissue tolerance is maintained during your injury period, you are less likely to sustain an injury upon your return to activity.
So how much activity should you participate in while injured?
This is the million-dollar question! Each of us is built differently. And hence will break down differently. Aspects such as; the injured area, the type of injury, and the severity of the injury all need to be considered when structuring a rest and recovery program. Be wary of anyone providing a recipe or generalized program. Vague and nonspecific plans are a recipe for disaster and a one-way ticket to re-injury. Any rest and recovery program needs to be specific to you and your injury! Don’t settle for anything less.
If you want guidance about how to get off the rollercoaster of rest and re-injury reach out. Our friendly team of Osteoapths in Glen Iris are here to help guide you back to doing what you love to do, now and well into the long term.