A Little Rest and Relaxation
I'll be the first one to admit that I am so enamored with CRT and the benefits of such programming for your dogs, that it would almost seem counterintuitive of me to say that you shouldn't overdue it. My enthusiasm would insinuate that I am out doing it everyday, and I would be if I could (trust me). But, too much of a good thing can result in harmful effects or quickly become a bad thing. I feel like that is a no brainer, yet we don't always apply it to our dogs----why not? Overtraining is a problem, but we will get to that in another blog post.
Many people will tell you to only do strength and resistance training a few times a week--but does anyone explain why that is? I recommend that CRT sessions be at a minimum of 2 to 3 (preferably) times a week....and I have plenty of reasons to provide when people ask me why. I'm going to do my best to summarize all of them for you, because to truly be doing your dogs and their bodies any justice-- you will need to comprehend why rest AND recovery are critical in a thorough training program.
Just as it is so important you understand how muscle, connective and soft tissue is broken down and built, it is also imperative that you know why I make it an expectation within my program that your dogs get both rest and recovery days. There is a difference between the two however, and both should be implemented in some fashion. I have made prior mention about even though humans are a different species, and structurally we differ from our canine friends... our body processes function very similarly. This still rings true when we talk about the activation, utilization, and production of cell energy. Now, I won't bore you with graphs, definitions, and models of molecular energy transfers....but I will dive into the surface layer of how it pertains to your dogs and the resistance work.
Recovery days, sometimes referred to as "active recovery", still should involve muscle expenditure, but not to the same demand and degree that your CRT sessions require. In fact, many of times, the activity should target different muscle groups than what were just worked in the sessions prior. I think, when working with dogs who are involved in many activities, you should plan for things like "obedience work" or neighborhood walks, on your non CRT session days. Recovery days are appropriately named because of what they are aiming to do. In numerous articles, there is evidence to support that lactate is converted into lactic acid, and will begin to build in working muscles within minutes of activity. Depending on your dog's fitness level, too much lactic acid--- with not enough places to go--- will eventually settle in the muscles.... and I'm sure many of you have had this experience for yourselves...but lactic acid accumulation tends to be painful. It is what causes your muscles to be "sore". In order to rid the body of the build up and extra waste, we need blood flow and the activation of the lymphatic system. Movement helps with both of these things. Active Recovery allows for light movement while clearing the by-product of exercise.
Now, don't assume rest means letting your dog become a couch potato. Much of the literature states that muscle recovery occurs within a minimum of 24-48 hours post exercise, hence my rule about never doing your sessions back to back. It may appear that your dog is back to his exuberant and bouncy self, but the muscles are working to repair themselves from the session before. Our dogs can't talk to us about how they are feeling the next day, following the CRT sessions (if only they could!). Injuries are just as likely to occur as a result of being overworked. According to Zink & Van Dyke (2013), "The failure to allow for adequate rest in between strength training sessions can lead to muscular injuries and diminished results". Rest is a state of relaxation, and can be induced in a number of ways including our "rub downs" that we talk about in the CRT material.
Sleep is also important for canine athletes. During sleep cycles, their heart rates drop, their mind calms, and the body is replenishing its fluid expenditure. Dogs don't quite sweat like people, but their body uses all the fluid stores it has available, during the cellular exchange and shift of potassium and sodium into and out of the cells. Rest is JUST as important as recovery and they are two seperate ideas--both equally important and valuable.
For more information about the CRT program and ideas on how to include more R&R into your dog's sessions---send me an email!