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What Does “Active Rest” Mean?

Do you work out? If so, how often do you exercise? Whether you’re trying to lose weight or get buff, working for your health or confidence, you may be in a rush to see results. 

You may think working out all days of the week, pushing every muscle to the absolute limit, is critical. Unfortunately, refusing active or even passive rest days is counterproductive. To ensure your workout is optimal for your well-being, we at Penrose Physical Therapy in Lacey, WA explain how to leverage active rest and reach out for physical therapy if things don’t go as planned. 

What Happens When You Work Out?

While working out, you’re straining your muscles, causing the tissues to rip slightly. Although satellite cells around the fibers work to patch these breaks in muscle tissues, they won’t have a chance to remedy the area if you’re constantly working out. That’s because you’re repeatedly pulling at the muscles.

Properly healing means giving your cells a chance to repair damaged tissues, making a rest day a must. While this may sound counterproductive, keeping your body from mending these rips can painfully and permanently damage your muscles, not only parting you from your fitness journey but also everyday activities. 

Why Is Active Rest Essential?

Rest days don’t have to be completely passive. Taking one to two days for a lighter fitness regimen keeps your body active and allows your muscles to heal. Any low-intensity exercises that don’t leave you winded, such as taking a stroll through the neighborhood park or doing some stretching in the living room, also maintain momentum, improving your quality of life.

What Should You Consider Doing on Your Active Rest Days?

Other activities you should take advantage of on your much-needed active rest days, keeping you from needing physical therapy, include:

  • Speed walking just above your usual strolling pace, or hiking, as long as it doesn’t heavily affect your breathing or heart rate
  • Yoga or light stretching to promote healthy muscle healing while maintaining a hearty blood flow
  • Swimming for smooth and dynamic resistance from the pressure of the water, slowly building your strength and endurance while reducing joint impact
  • Cycling or low-intensity ellipticals, which provide a light cardio workout
  • Cardio exercises such as jump roping, trampoline jumping, or pogo stick hopping, as long as you keep it light

When Are You Most in Need of an Active Rest Day?

Taking at least one day a week for active rest is ideal, but feeling extremely sore to the point where you’re struggling with your usual workout indicates you need time off immediately. 

Switching to a low-intensity activity for the day alleviates soreness and reduces downtime since lighter exercises increase blood flow and amino acids to the affected areas. This strategy also lowers stress on your body that could otherwise land you in physical therapy.

How Is Passive Rest Different?

Passive rest means your body is submissive, sitting in front of the television or lounging around the house. Many physical therapists warn against doing so because it painfully tightens muscles the day after a rigorous workout, but it can be helpful under certain circumstances:

  • If you’ve received an injury from your workout, you’ll need a few weeks to recuperate, keeping the injury from worsening. Consider going in for physical therapy to work out any kinks, and have your medical history handy for your physical therapist, so they know how to best treat you.
  • It’s also okay to take a passive rest day from all activities if your body is feeling unusually tired. Always listen and respond to your body’s needs.

Since There’s No Guarantee, Trust Us for Physical Therapy

The last thing you need is to lose your freedom and ability to move, barring you from enjoying your favorite activities and spending time with those you love. Sadly, even with passive or active rest days, an awkward barbell lift or drastic weight increase can lead to injury. 

Don’t take more rest days than necessary because of a pull or sprain. Trust Penrose Physical Therapy for physical therapy in Lacey, WA and get back to your life and workout regimen as soon as possible. We’ll diagnose and treat any impairing conditions when you call 360-456-1444 today!

AUTHOR

Jennifer Penrose

Penrose Physical Therapy

"Leading Experts Helping People Become More Active and Mobile, Reduce Stress and Achieve Longevity… So They Can Enjoy Great Health For Years to Come!"
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