Importance of Recovery

Importance of Recovery

Importance of Recovery

Firstly, recovery is as important as training in sports. Period! Recovery is one of the most important parts of any training or exercise program. Recovery allows for improved performance, permits time for our body to heal itself in preparation for the next training load, and decreases the risk of potential injury. It allows muscle tissue to replenish needed nutrients and mend damaged tissue. It also allows time for mental recovery as well. An athlete who is well-rested will have more energy and better focus.

Your body undergoes strain during exercise, and the recovery period is what allows your body to adapt to that strain. Working out causes muscle tissues to break down. These tissues are actually “damaged” during a workout; rest and recovery allow those tissues to heal and grow stronger. Resting also allows you to restore the energy that you lose by working out, such as muscle glycogen. Sometimes athletes/players feel guilty as they have to take the day off and just rest. But Rest days are critical for athletes at all levels. Getting adequate rest has both physiological and psychological benefits.

Let's have a look at them

1. Promotes Muscle Recovery : Exercise – especially intense exercise – creates tiny tears in the muscles. Over time, as muscles heal, they eventually grow bigger and stronger. It’s important to remember that this process occurs during rest and recovery, not during the exercise session itself. If you don't allow sufficient time off to replenish your glycogen stores and give your muscles time to recover from damage, performance will be compromised. Further disregard of replenishment can lead to sustained muscle soreness and pain.

2. Helps Overcome Adaptation : The principle of adaptation states that when we undergo the stress of physical exercise, our body adapts and becomes more efficient. It’s just like learning any new skill. At first, it’s difficult, but over time it becomes second nature. Once you adapt to a given stress, you require additional stress to continue to make progress. But there are limits to how much stress the body can tolerate before it breaks down and suffers injury. Doing too much work too quickly will result in injury or muscle damage. Doing too little too slowly will not result in any improvement. This is why coaches set up specific programs that increase time and intensity at a planned rate and allow rest days and sessions.

3. Prevents Overtraining : Too little rest and too few recovery days can lead to overtraining syndrome. This condition is thought to affect roughly 60% of elite athletes and 30% of non-elite endurance athletes. And once you have it, it can be difficult to recover. The consequences of overtraining are many. Research has found that it can increase your body fat, raise your risk of dehydration,  worsen your mood, and definitely increase the risk of injury. Experts say that players who overtrain often have trouble with performance.

4. Promotes Relaxation  : Taking a rest day also gives your mind and body a break. Take your normal exercise time slot and do a hobby instead.


  1. Active Recovery : Active recovery occurs in the hours soon after intense exercise. Research shows that low-intensity exercise during the cool-down phase of your workout is associated with performance benefits. Active recovery increases blood circulation, which helps remove waste products from soft tissue that have been broken down by intense exercise. Fresh blood flow then delivers nutrients that help repair and rebuild muscles, tendons, and ligaments. During active recovery, athletes should engage in light physical activity that raises the heart rate above the resting rate. But they should avoid the same repetitive movements they performed during training or an event. Active recovery is an ideal time to incorporate stretching and massage because the muscles are already warm. This provides more effective stretches to increase the range of motion. It also reduces the risk of injury.

    Examples of active recovery exercises include walking, brisk walking and jogging; swimming or other aquatic activities; cycling or stationary cycling, foam rolling and relaxing yoga.

  2. Long-Term Recovery : Long-term recovery involves rest and recovery periods that are built into a seasonal training schedule. It also may include days or weeks of rest and recovery incorporated into an annual athletic program.

    Long-term recovery periods are those that are worked into a year-round schedule. As part of a physical therapy routine combined with year-round exercise, you will work days or entire weeks of rest into your schedule for recovery. You’ve probably noticed that high-level athletes change their training routine throughout the year. This is part of the long-term recovery process, which allows the athlete’s body to recover in one area while they switch up the routine with cross-training or other techniques. Sleep is another important aspect of rest and recovery when it comes to sports performance. Athletes who are sleep deprived are at risk of losing aerobic endurance and may experience subtle changes in hormone levels, which can lead to higher levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) as well as a decrease in human growth hormone, which is active during tissue repair. 

  3. Balance exercise with rest and recovery : It is this alternation of adaptation and recovery that takes the athlete to a higher level of fitness. High-level athletes need to realize that the greater the training intensity and efforts the greater the need for planned recovery. Monitoring your workouts with a training log and paying attention to how your body feels and how motivated you are is extremely helpful in determining your recovery needs and modifying your training program accordingly.