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Rest, Recovery and Sleep Ratios for Athletes

posted Mar 23, 2015, 9:51 AM by Debbie Sokol
Are you getting enough rest but still dragging when it comes to your workouts? Rest and recovery are two very different words. Make the most of your rest time with recovery actions like sufficient sleep.

In our seemingly "always-on, always-connected" society, there can be great temptation to short change the importance of rest and recovery. Yet, athletes performing at a high caliber level know how critical these bit R & R words are to any successful training program, as well as general health and well-being.

Rest and recovery, two similar yet very different words when implemented correctly in my opinion. Let me break it down:
  • Rest - a combination of time spent sleeping and not training (example - if you train for 10 hours per week, you have 158 non-training hours or 95% of your time)
  • Recovery - this word is a very active verb in my mind; refers to the actions taken to maximize your body’s ‘rest’ time. Recovery actions include: sleep, hydration, nutrition, posture, heat, ice, stretching, self myofascial release, stress management, compression, and so forth
Note: Muscles recover the quickest because they receive direct blood flow. Tendons, ligaments and bones receive indirect blood flow, and therefor can take longer to recover and be more susceptible to overtraining stress

Rest and Recovery for Athletes

Recovery Exercise: Sleep

In the same way athletes need more calories when they are training, they need more sleep too. Sleep is the time when the body repairs itself, providing mental health, hormonal balance and muscular recovery. The ideal hours of sleep varies from person to person based on lifestyle, genetic makeup, training regimen and so on; however, most athletes need between seven to ten hours of sleep per night.

Sleep should be considered an active part of your athletic training and taken just as seriously as your workout (if not more seriously). In fact, a 2011 study tracked the Stanford University basketball team for several months. Players added an average of almost two hours of sleep a night. The results - players increased their speed by 5%, their free throws were 9% more accurate, they had faster reflexes and felt happier. Other studies have shown similar benefits for other athletes.

Sounds worth the extra zzzz's to me! Remember, recovery is an active verb. What are you doing with the 158 hours a week you are not training? Lindsey Smith, Moxie Strength and Nutrition