Importance of Rest

Importance of Rest

Makayla Bast, Journalist

As an athlete, coaches and other athletes prioritize the domain of hard work. Phrases like “Hard work beats talent” and “there is always someone outworking you” are always said in the state of encouragement from the athletic community. But what if those extra practices you pick up on your off days and the longer workouts you squeeze in on the weekends are doing more harm than good? What if athletes could recognize how incorporating rest days into their busy weeks might save their bodies and sports career in the long run? Understanding this would limit many preventable injuries.


In my personal athletic career, I have heard from almost every coach that hard work is an essential characteristic to a successful athlete. This ringing in my ear for so long, it translated into my soccer agenda. I would go to optional practices in preseason, attend lifting over the summer, and even would actually run the fitness my coach recommended during the season. All this to say, I was usually the type of person who listened to this athletic culture and pushed my body to the limits in the name of progress. And to be honest, I found all the extra participation fun, and I felt as though I was making my coaches proud as I improved in my sport.


But, this extra work would get the best of me and I would face a much larger setback due to my lack of rest. As a result of all the workouts and the wear and tear I was forcing onto myself, I ended up tearing my meniscus in my knee. From doing almost too much, to now being limited to nothing was a humbling and perspective shifting experience. I now have about 4-6 months of recovery to return back to my old self, and I have sat and questioned if I pushed my body too far to cultivate this injury. In this reflective tone, I feel the athletic world needs to change its style to make it known that testing is okay for athletes. 


Rest is a lightly covered subject for athletes. But, the facts don’t lie that resting can prolong performance, durability, and efficiency in a given sport. Scientifically, rest is also a contributor to growth and healthy development. Rest allows glycogen stores to be restocked. These stores are what gives the body the fuel to train and heal, builds strength, and reduces fatigue. With rest, the body can help itself prepare better for more use it can go through later on. 


The most common injury for athletes is an overuse induced one. Rest and recovery can salvage athletes from this fate as no athlete wants to work everyday for a big event, only to be benched weeks before with a lingering injury. The athletic community can change with the influence of athletes prioritizing rest. If an athlete wants to be their best, their bodies need to be cared for as well, and rest is the solution. Despite the outside criticism of taking a day off, the benefits of resting are more productive and long lasting for athletes, making it worth it.