For a high-level athlete, how much rest is best after high-impact competition?
~ Kristie (via Twitter)
Thanks for tweeting me your question. To be honest, this is a little out of my area of expertise, so I reached out to my boy, Jay Ross. Jay is owner and head coach at CrossFit Conshococken and has his master’s degree in sports and exercise psychology. Here’s what he had to say. (And for the record, I agree with all of it!):
High-impact competition can put your body through the ringer. Typically, 72 hours of rest will allow the body to return to homeostasis. Yup, that means three days of no high-impact, high-intensity activity in order to improve immune-system functioning and restore the resiliency of your connective tissues and muscles.
But let’s face it, if you’re an athlete, your goal is to get back to training immediately. Sitting around doing nothing for days sounds amazingly boring and borderline impossible. So here are a few tips for recovery to ease your mind and body during your time off:
1) Re-fuel the right way. Put down that celebratory beer and cheesesteak, and grab something healthy. Start by increasing your hydration and replacing lost fluids. Drink roughly half your bodyweight in ounces of water. Then, reward yourself with a delicious meal packed with healthy carbs and lots of protein. Sweet potato and chicken, anyone?
2) Get therapeutic. Schedule your favorite therapeutic and restorative treatment: massage, acupuncture, functional medicine. These measures can help the body get rid of stress and realign its systems. Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra time on your foam roller, lacrosse ball, rolling pin, or other self-massaging device. You don’t have to get off your butt to roll it out!
3) More Zzzzzzzzz’s, please. Turn off the distractions (computer, TV, smartphone, video games) and get to bed earlier. Sleep is our body’s best opportunity for recovery and that’s exactly what you need right now. Most need at least eight hours to recharge, but take more if you need it.
4) Ease back into it. You’re itching to get back out there and train, aren’t you? Slow down—when you’re feeling ready to move again, return to activity with low-impact exercise. Take a stroll around the park, flow it out in a yoga class, or paddle your way across the pool for a nice swim. Keep it easy and low stress.
Bottom line: Whatever your plan of action, remember that you are the No. 1 expert on how your body feels. So, don’t be afraid to listen! If you’re still sore, feeling fatigued, or tired, take a few more days off. The goal is to repeat all this competition craziness again soon, right? So take the appropriate steps to rest, and recover, to get you back on track towards your next goal.
Enjoy your R&R (rest and recovery),
MM & JR
Maura Manzo is a yoga teacher and health coach specializing in integrating diet, health and wellness. She supports others in becoming their best possible selves. Maura is available for private instruction and coaching, as well as on-site corporate classes and speaking engagements. She is co-creator of the Beyond Asana 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training and the Art of Letting Go: Maya Tulum Mexican Yoga Vacation. Learn more about her teaching schedule, coaching practice and yoga trainings at MauraManzo.com.