Why Rest Days Are Important For Muscle Building
Wonder why you feel sore after engaging in strenuous activities, intense workouts, or switching up your exercise routine? Your muscles, tendons, and ligaments undergo physiological changes, causing discomfort. Although these changes are necessary for building muscles, they can cause severe tissue damage without adequate rest days.
What Causes Muscle Soreness and Discomfort?
Your muscle fibers develop tiny tears from the stress of enduring resistance training or intense activities, causing soreness. You also get muscle fatigued from overworking your muscles. Additionally, tendons and ligaments, which connect muscles to bones and stabilize joints, also go through immense stress from the sudden, forceful movements becoming sore and painful.
Lactic Acid Buildup
When you exercise, the body produces lactic acid from breaking down stored glucose for energy. Usually, oxygen is always insufficient for this metabolic process. Instead of the body releasing carbon dioxide, energy, and water, the byproducts when oxygen is sufficient. It produces lactic acid, which accumulates in your muscles, causing discomfort and fatigue.
The body initiates a healing process when you stress or injure your tissues and body organs, known as inflammation. After intense physical activity, your body starts the inflammation process, which causes pain and discomfort.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Some people develop soreness a couple of hours after a strenuous workout known as DOMS. It occurs from a combination of micro tears, inflammation, and lactic acid buildup.
Dehydration and Electrolyte Imbalance
Inadequate hydration and imbalances in essential minerals like sodium and potassium can contribute to muscle cramps and discomfort during and after exercise.
Why Embracing Rest Days Is Necessary
As a fitness enthusiast, gym instructor, or wellness seeker, your inclination toward staying fit is a given. However, prioritize your muscle health while you chase your passion, career, and healthy living journey.
Rest days are essential for healing. After strenuous exercise, the body repairs muscles, ligaments, and tendons by regenerating damaged tissue cells, removing waste products, and reducing inflammation. The physiological process facilitates healing, strengthens and builds your muscles, and fosters muscle adaptation for improved performance.
Healing and repair take time. While the body's internal processes are ultimately responsible for recovery and healing, you can support the body's metabolic processes to promote recovery.
Tips For Enhancing Post-Workout Healing As You Rest
- Reduce your physical activities - prioritize resting a few days after an intense workout or strenuous physical activity to enable the body to heal.
- Healthy living - eat balanced meals and hydrate to get nutrients that promote healing, cell regeneration, and fight inflammation.
- Hydrate - water is the medium where all biochemical reactions occur. It is also a vital source of electrolytes essential for promoting muscle and connective tissue health.
- Consider setting up an at-home gym - at-home workouts prioritize your control over intensity, reducing the risk of overexertion. The familiar environment also enhances comfort, alleviating stress, which exacerbates muscle tension.
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