Want to get stronger and avoid injury? Try having a rest. No really.
Ask any coach, athlete, nutritionist, therapist or physio how to build and sustain both mental and physical strength and they will advocate the importance of rest. It is vital for our wellbeing, but what does rest actually mean?
If you’ve happily developed a routine and excitedly noticed progression don’t worry, you’re not suddenly required to sit around and do nothing while your gains diminish. Getting strong and fit is a process that should be built around you, taking into account the needs of your body, lifestyle, hormones, any trauma, energy levels and stress in your life. The list goes on.
Our team of coaches have the knowledge and experience of working with 100s of women who, on average, most benefit from a training programme of around 6 weeks before an all-important rest! At this point the body and mind need time to recover, for inflammation caused by good effort to be reduced along with risk of injury.
You’ve caught the fitness bug and have now been told to rest. How can you still feel satisfied?
1. Light sessions only. Reduce heavy training for 4-6 days.
Most of us don't want to stop our fitness routine for fear of slipping out of the habit. But you don't have to stop completely. Attend during rest week but take it easy. Reduce weights, repetitions and speed to give your body a break whilst still benefiting from increased blood flow and essential movement.
2. Mindful Movement. If you use a training scale, aim for 4-5 out of 10 in difficulty.
Scale your movements using a lower rate of perceived exertion (RPE) level of difficulty. You will quickly learn to choose the right amount of effort at the right time. When on top of the world take advantage and push harder, but if under the weather ease off and accept that it's just not your day for whatever reason. By using a range of 4 out of 10 during a rest week it’s easier to ensure that your body is simply flowing through movements.
3. Enjoy your food. Slow down, chew and be mindful.
During a more frantic day or one full of mundane distractions it isn’t always easy to sit and be mindful while eating. A rest week provides the opportunity to take the time to think more about what is going on the plate, about eating habits and digestion so that our relationship with food can truly be enjoyable and mood-enhancing.
4. Walk, don’t run. Get among some trees!
Take the pressure off. Don’t look at your watch or measure your distance and pace. Try to reduce the intensity of your movement and instead listen to the sounds around you and appreciate your environment. Pretend you are on holiday and give yourself a chance to feel more grounded and centred.
5. Have a bath. Epsom salts are a fab addition.
Draw yourself a deliciously hot bath or luxuriate in an extra long shower. Make sure you won't be disturbed. Enjoy making time for yourself in your safe space. Add heavenly smelling bubbles or a bath bomb. Soothing bath salts would be even better.
6. Be sure to stretch. Check-in with our specialist coach Tracey or Yoga with Adriene to help flush out soreness.
Prioritise stretching. We can be restricted in so many ways that negatively impact our bodies. Timetabling or finding regular moments to stretch is crucial, but your rest week can be an excellent chance to really focus on this act of kindness for your body. Maybe you will enjoy a good stretch and include more of it in your routine, but your body will thank you for even just the occasional session.
7. Drink more water and less alcohol. Add salt and lemon to your morning glass of water.
Increasing the amount of water we drink is a great way to flush out toxins from the body, which is what rest week is all about, to alleviate soreness and stress. Your skin, nails and hair will also benefit. Try adding a pinch of salt and tablespoon of lemon juice to a glass of water in the morning. This will help the water to be absorbed more efficiently to do its work around the systems of the body and may have the added benefit of helping reduce the amount of toilet trips needed during the day.
8. Get 7-8 hours sleep. Consider your sleep routine.
We know that the sleep experts are right… but how and where to start? Go to bed an hour earlier than you usually do. Leave your phone in another room (having worked out the alarm situation if you are worried). You will feel such a sense of freedom when you separate from your phone. You will gain more time, more calm, more sleep.
9. Use a massage ball or roller daily.
It's time to treat yourself and learn how to use a massage ball or roller if you don't already. It’s such a fantastic way to discover where you hold tension and resolve it yourself by loosening tight muscles before they start to cause you pain and discomfort.
10. Breathing exercises. Check out Breathpod on Instagram.
Breathing is fundamental to reducing stress. There are special techniques you can learn but simply tuning in to your breathing is a fab place to start. And you can do it anywhere… while you are out for that walk, when rolling your body, before you sleep.
These 10 techniques can help to reduce injury by tackling elements of stress. By reducing stress you can alter the way your body and mind respond, allowing them to become more stronger and more resilient. Start by choosing one or two of the ideas above and see how good you feel!