Why Rest is Not Always the Same as Recovery

Smiling woman lying on exercise mat in medical office


Are you training hard this winter and starting

to see the benefits of those hours logged and

sacrifices made?


Or are you starting to feel drained, sore, and

unmotivated to continue?


Either way, a better recovery plan may be in

order to maximize your results or get you

back on track.


“I took a rest day last week” you tell me.


But what did that actually look like? Rest is

not the same as recovery, and we must

separate the two to get the most from both.



What is rest or a “rest day”?


Rest is simply absence of effort, movement,

or exertion.  This can be on the couch, in the

sauna, napping, or sleeping. No matter how

hard or easy we are training at a given time,

rest is necessary for our bodies to continue

functioning well.


Rest starts with getting 7-9 hours of sleep

every night.  This ensures our bodies are

able to heal from the days activities and

recharge for the next day.  It’s critical to

optimal performance for any athlete, and

success at life in general.


A “rest day” for some athletes may also

include a full day spent away from the gym

or any activity that requires them to exert

themselves.  This is needed at times during a

strenuous training regimen to fully recharge.

However, rest is only one part of true



Is recovery when I’m not sore anymore?


In the sports and fitness world, trainers build

exercise programs around training periods

and recovery periods in a cyclical pattern.

The recovery period is complete when your

body can meet or exceed it’s previous

performance in a particular activity.


The recovery process is the restorative steps

taken to regain this state of normal health,

balance, and vitality that performance

requires. In fact, every time your body

successfully bounces back with an

appropriate level of recovery you establish a

new “ceiling” of performance capabilities.


That’s what we want from our training, right?


We actually aren’t improving our fitness

during our training sessions.  We are making

improvements in our bodies when we are

recovering from that training.  After each

stressful workout we must repair damaged

tissues, replenishing nutrient stores and

remove waste products.


We can’t just “rest” and expect our bodies

to fix themselves.  That’s really just waiting

around for the soreness and pain to set in.

Recovery refers to the techniques and

actions taken to maximize your body’s ability

to repair.


Recovery techniques can include:

  • Hydration
  • Nutrition
  • Myofascial release or foam rolling
  • Stretching
  • Massage
  • Stress management
  • Manual Therapy
  • Dry Needling
  • Modalities (heat, ice, compression)


The goal of each recovery technique is to

relieve soreness, improve flexibility, and

optimize movement patterns so you can train

more often and at a better quality.


How much recovery do I need?


We all know that if we want to perform our

best we must train hard and push ourselves

to our limit.  The key is to learn that limit for

our individual bodies.  At that “limit” we must

reserve time and mental space to nurture our

bodies and allow recovery.


For most people, one day a week (or even

every other) is all that is needed for an

actual “rest day”.  This is dependent on your

commitment to getting adequate rest each

night to allow repairs to take place.


Several other days during the week you need

to fit self care and recovery into your

schedule.  That includes both post

workout recovery techniques and recovery

days when you move your body but keep

activity less stressful.


How does recovery aid our training?


With recovery we are able to increase our

performance, decrease future recovery time,

and lower our risk of injury.  It’s what we are

all aiming for! Unfortunately, many of us miss

the mark because we don’t want to dedicate

the time to these little things that can matter

the most.


Don’t ignore the cries of your body for rest

and recovery until it becomes too late.  At that

point you will be forced to take unnecessary

time off due to injury or burnout.


Our goal at Peak Potential Physiotherapy &

Wellness is to guide you in recovery while you

continue to train.  We have both recovery

and performance packages that can

incorporate manual therapy, dry needling,

and Astym to maximize results.


Inquire today about these game changing

programs on our website. . . .