Whether you’re training for a marathon or trying to start a running routine, rest days are the key to success for any runner. Think about rest as the partner of training – if you do not allow your body to rest, recover, and adapt to the training, you will quickly find yourself overtrained or injured. Since every body’s needs are different, try these activities and see how you feel the next day. The most important part about rest days is finding an activity that allows your mind and body to recover while still staying active.
By increasing the range of motion in muscles and joints, stretching helps to treat and prevent injuries that come from the repetitive motions of running. Both dynamic and static stretches promote blood flow to the muscles, which helps them to stay loose and less likely to sustain injury. Both types of stretches are great for rest days as you’ll feel less sore and more ready to take on your next run.
Best For: Injury prevention and rehab
Yoga allows runners to balance their strength with their mobility and stability. To keep your muscles safe on a rest day, limit yourself to an effort level of 3 out of 10. This could take the form of a beginner or intermediate class, practicing sun salutations, or trying a few sequences at home. As long as you listen to your body and avoid extensive physical stress, yoga can serve as a great tool for any runner.
Best For: Improving mobility and stability
Using a foam roller on your quads and calves can help to reduce soreness and promote muscle recovery. Some of the soreness that you experience after an intense workout can be caused by tension in the fascia, the connective tissue surrounding our muscles. Putting pressure on muscle groups that work hard during your run can help to break up the tension that can build up, helping to get your body ready for your next run.
Best For: Improving circulation and promoting recovery
Like foam rolling, getting a massage can be a great rest day activity. By focusing on your hips, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, you’re lengthening the muscle and providing them with the increased blood flow needed to decrease post-workout soreness. Massages also help to improve your mental health by reducing stress and allowing your mind to reset.
Best For: Improving circulation and promoting recovery.
Walking and Light Aerobic Activity:
Taking a 30-45 minute walk through a park or a path can help to keep your body moving without the risk of sustaining an overuse injury. Not only will you be able to build your endurance, but you can take it as an opportunity to find a walking partner that will help you enjoy your rest day.
Best For: Decreasing stiffness
If you're an athlete or weekend warrior looking to make the most out of your rest days, a physical therapist can work with you to create a fitness plan to allow you to perform at your best. Contact Performance Physical Therapy at 401.726.7100 to work with a physical therapist that specializes in your sport or activity.