No pain, no gain: it seems true enough. The right amount of stress is good for your body. You get a bit of an adrenaline rush when you push yourself to finish your workout or challenge your mind with a difficult book, but too much of a good thing can make it a bad thing. Too much pain, and (we think) you’ll lose the gains you’ve made in the past.
The culture of fitness and sports heavily focuses on attaining the next level of strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health. But that means that athletes (and even those that participate in recreational sports) feel the pressure to continuously push their body to its limits. That kind of training can take a devastating toll.
When you deprive the body of adequate recovery time, you’ll find that you can’t make the gains you once did. Muscles need time to repair the micro-tears caused by physical activity and your heart and head need to get a break every now and then to work at its optimal level. Otherwise, your muscles won’t be able to perform as well or get stronger since the micro-tears keep tearing. Your heart, which is also a muscle, will feel sluggish and tired too. It’s no wonder that rigorous training can sometimes turn an athlete off working out – they start to love their motivational drive because they’re physically and mentally exhausted.
If you’re a committed athlete (or even if you’re not), your body needs time to recover from the stress of engaging in cardiovascular or strength training. Stress that’s not acknowledged or treated can lead to health problems like chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, injuries or accidents, and joint pain. Perhaps more devastating is the mental strain that’s associated with lack of relaxation time. Athletes have reported feeling less motivated to train, disengaged during the activity, fatigue that they can’t shake off, and sometimes even depression!
Here are 2 signs you should watch out for:
- You shouldn’t feel drained after a work out. An effective training schedule shouldn’t leave you on the floor drooling from exhaustion. Physical exercise should get your heart pumping and endorphins rushing, so while your muscles might feel a little sore, you shouldn’t be peeling yourself off the floor. If you do find that you’re completely wiped, you may need a rest day or two. Allowing your body to relax and recover will allow you to get back to your normal functional level.
- Are you having trouble moving the next day? There’s a popular myth that you should be sore the next day. But it’s a myth based on a half-truth. Yes, you may experience a bit of tightness and soreness the next day, but if it’s debilitating, you might have pushed yourself too far. That means you need even more recovery time than you think you do. And not giving yourself that proper rest will make you more prone to accidents and injuries the next time you train.
So, what can you do to prevent this kind of damage to your fitness and health?
Take a break. Get some rest. Give yourself a rest day (and if you’re on a diet, a cheat day).
A little time away from the gym can:
- Improve your heart health
- Lower your chances of picking up the latest cold or flu bug
- Boost your memory skills
- Keep your spirits up and improve your mental health
- Help you lose weight
- Decrease acne-related breakouts
- Give you the chance to hang out with family and friends so that you can enjoy the Christmas holidays!
The last one is our favourite!
Merry Christmas from the Sharks!