In life we are always taught that the harder we work for something, the more we want it, and the time we put in will determine our result. But when do we as athletes, coaches, students, and workaholics of America put our foot down and say I am not doing anything today, or through the weekend, or dare I say for a whole entire week?
One of the most misunderstood concepts when it comes to athletics is REST! Athletes often think that if they are resting, that they are losing fitness, ability, and that overall killer instinct factor that helps them succeed in their given sport. With the recent snowstorm that dropped three feet on us, is it all-bad that some people had to take off for two whole days?
I’ve thought recently more as to how I will use the concept of rest within my future clinic where I hope to work with athletes from all sports and abilities. How many days a week will I work with them? How long will my sessions be? Do some people even need physical therapy or would they benefit from just taking off? All great questions that are completely dependent on each given situation.
Currently in Kinesiology, we are learning about the concept of a stress-strain curve. This is where a given amount of stress on a mechanism (an ankle, hamstring, ligament, tendon, etc) will yield a given amount of stress over a certain amount of time. Depending on the amount of stress exerted and the size/strength of the mechanism, we need to give a certain amount of time for the structure to return back to its original form; This is, if it can be returned to normal elasticity at all. The everyday pounding that many of these sports require to succeed at a high level will usually allow the muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage to return to their normal form (in the physical therapy world we call this the elasticity phase), but not always. What if the stress causes some strain? What if that mechanism needs a full month to return to normalcy? If this is a patient who comes into my clinic, I may not want to meet with them more than 1-2 times per week and I sure don’t want them causing more stress in their free time.
*I am borrowing the following quote from a physical therapist because I feel like it is extremely relevant*
Rest is an under-appreciated component of rehabilitation and fitness programs. Push, push, push, build, build, build. Repeat. Pull, pull, pull, stretch, stretch, stretch. Repeat. Sound familiar? – Brian (bodyonept.com)
“less is more”
A quote that I try to model my mid and long distance training by. This could mean one less interval during a workout, 10 less minutes on a run, or a whole day of NO RUNNING (imagine!!!). Also, could we as athletes “rest” while incorporating other activities? If a runner spends their free time in the pool aqua-jogging, is their body still resting?
Let’s take this a step further though. Rest, in my opinion doesn’t only allude to the fact that you completely take a day off. It refers to sleep, massage, foam rolling, nutrition, and essentially anything needed to bring your body back to it’s “equilibirum”. What does rest mean to you? Does it include some psychological components too? Just some food for thought.
There are many articles floating around the Internet dealing with the concept of rest; since I am relating much of this to the track and field world, I will of course refer to track athletes. Some of my favorites:
2011 article explaining the difference between Kenyans and other athletes, specifically when they PUSH and when they REST!
2014 article explaining the importance of rest/recovery. Simple strategies for rest/recovery such as carrying a stretch rope, massage, hydration, sleep and nutrition.
10 signs your body needs a rest. My favorite include,
Sleep: you didn’t sleep well or enough,
Energy: You’re run down,
Wellness: You’re sick
Pain: You’re sore or nursing an injury,
Performance: Your workout went poorly
That’s all for today. Thank you for your time!