The Importance of Rest!
Whether or not you are returning to school as a pupil, student or teacher, you have children that are going back to school or have no connections at all, September is often seen as a time of new beginnings, the time to set some new goals and push on to the next level, or just to kick start your training again.
For the vast majority, this can lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed, as you try and fit in your training and competition into the business of day-to-day life. OR we all get over excited and start to over train, either way, it is important that we listen to our bodies.
Most athletes understand the importance of getting enough rest as part of their training programme, however, a common mistake when starting something new, is feeling guilty for taking time to rest…. DON’T, Rest is very important.
Why is Rest Important?
Exercise, or any other physical work, causes fluid loss, muscle tissue breakdown, and the depletion of energy stores. During recovery, two vital things happen. Firstly, the body replenishes its energy stores (read more on Nutrion and Fuel For Performance), and secondly recovery allows the body to repair tissue damage. Without appropriate recovery time, muscle fibres would continue to break down, and energy levels would be very low, ultimately leading to fatigue and other symptoms of overtraining.
Overtraining? You can train too much?
Overtraining often occurs in athletes that are preparing for something important, e.g. competitions and tournaments. Athletes attempt to train harder, and for longer in order to try and see quicker improvements with a greater impact, unfortunately, with overtraining the effects can be negative and performance levels can decrease rather than improve. This is done to the body’s energy stores being depleted and muscle fibres not getting enough time to repair.
Signs of overtraining can include (but not exclusive of):
- Trouble Sleeping
- Decreased appetite
- Increasing incidents of injury
- Pain in Muscles and Joints
- Lack of energy and enthusiasm
- Not feeling yourself
If you are not committed to your training and are finding excuses not to train, this may be a psychological weakness, rather than a sign of overtraining. Remember, the Psychology of a Champion is to work hard and to keep trying, but if you need the rest… take it. Your best work will be completed when you are refreshed and training an effective and appropriate intensity.
Rest doesn’t necessarily mean – do nothing! It is possible and often beneficial to rest and to keep moving at the same time. Active rest often involves performing light, low intensity exercise, without overly exerting yourself.
For example, Footballers that are used to doing lots of running, jumping, strength training, technical work etc. may choose to swim or cycle on an active rest day. This keeps the body moving and promotes recovery in the muscles, but as stated, light, low intensity movements should be encouraged.
It is, also important to re-charge your mind, along with your body when you can, and by doing something different from your usual routine or a different sport you can refocus and refresh mentally – this is often referred to as a Multi-Sport Development.
Elite Athletes often use this concept at the end of a long season, for example NBA stars play an 82-game regular season. On average, each team play over 3 games a week, combine that with travelling and training and there is little time for anything else. To just stop at the end of such an intense season is also counterproductive, and as such players use a transitional phase in their training, this would include reducing the intensity of training and Basketball related activity, but also playing and taking part in different sports before a break, such as cycling and golf etc.
This Multi-Sport concept is also ideal for our Young Champions. Indeed, for all children. We do not want them to train intensely for lots of sports, this would lead to overtraining, however by learning the rules and developing skills for a range of activities, we can promote active rest. There is also lots of research to suggest that children that play in a range of sports earlier on, often attain more when they become sport specific, due to the transferable skills learnt along the way.
Sleep is training too!
Sleep is very important! It really is as simple as that.
As previously discussed, when you train, or exercise muscle tissue is broken down. Although protein in your diet is a very important factor in promoting muscle regeneration and growth, sleep also plays a vital role in this process. Within the first couple of hours of falling asleep, there is a release of HGH (Human Growth Hormone), this, as its name suggests plays a huge part in promoting muscle gain and also allowing children to grow. The body also releases Melatonin, this is sometimes known as the sleep hormone and allows the body to go from being awake into a deep sleep.
Unstructured sleeping patterns don’t allow the body to set a reference point for these hormones, this essentially means that we may be missing out on the effectiveness of the HGH or struggle to sleep as not enough Melatonin is released due to going to bed too late, or not getting enough time in bed!
So, neglecting your sleep, may mean that all the hard work in the gym, or on the pitch is not being as effective as it should.
To give you some ideas on length of sleep multiple studies suggest that on average;
- School Children (6-13 year olds) require 9-11 hours sleep per night
- Teenagers (14-17 year olds) require 8-10 hours sleep per night
- Adults (18-64 year olds) require 7-9 hours sleep per night
- Seniors (64+ year olds) require 8-9 hours sleep per night
Remember, this is an average and a guide only, if you are more active, you may require more sleep.
Listen to your body!
Remember, the only person that truly knows your body is, you! If you need time to rest, take the time, it is important to readjust to new times, new schedules and new routines, however it is key that you do not use it as an excuse, if you are truly tired and need that rest day, that’s ok, but remember the path to the top can be challenging and sometimes it is important to push through
The World Health Organisation and the Chief Medical Officer recommend that each of us should complete 60minues of moderate – vigorous activity every day, maybe this is the right guide to use and if you are feeling tired, maybe a walk or a light jog maybe a better idea than a full on training session, but we encourage you to keep active, we just want you to look after yourselves whilst you do it… and remember, we are with you, every step of the way.
Want to become a better Athlete?
Our Sports Apps below can help
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