Whether you’re an elite runner or weekend warrior, rest days are equally important. In our years as a physical therapy clinic in Bethesda, we’ve taught our patients that the rest days are a crucial component of any good running program.
Resting is necessary to recover appropriately, avoid burnout, and develop as a runner. On days off, your body repairs and rebuilds broken-down muscle tissue from strenuous runs and training sessions. Without proper rest, you may end up needing a physical therapist in Chevy Chase or Bethesda.
Here are three simple things you can do to optimize your days off.
Catch Up On Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of recovery. During sleep, your muscles relax, and hormones that promote tissue recovery are produced.
Without sufficient sleep, your muscles might remain tense and sore, which can even lead to chronic pain. On your days off, try getting to bed an hour earlier to catch up on this vital muscle recovery component.
Perform Light Movement
One of the most important things you can do on a rest day is perform a relaxing home exercise routine to address any inflammation or muscle tightness. Examples include light mobility work, yoga, or whatever else you may enjoy. This will help reduce muscle soreness and improve your range of motion. They’ll help your legs feel fresh and get you ready to run hard the following day.
Fuel Your Body
Another important aspect of rest and recovery is nutrition and hydration. Just because you aren’t running on a rest day doesn’t mean you should deviate from your normal nutrition strategy.
On rest days, it’s essential to fuel your body with foods that support muscle recovery and growth. This means prioritizing protein-rich foods, complex carbs, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Focus on healthy, nutrient-dense foods to help improve muscle recovery.
Just as your training runs are vital to your running performance, so are your rest days. Without taking the proper time to rest and recover, you’re putting your body at greater risk for injury or burnout. These three simple techniques can help optimize your rest day and improve your recovery. If you want a customized approach to optimizing your rest days, our sports physical therapy clinic in Chevy Chase can help!