How long should you rest between seasons?

By: Tibor Bodi, Jr., MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS, CF-L1, ITAT   November 18, 2015
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As we transition from the fall season to the winter season there are a great many athletes that are also transitioning from sport to sport. Football players moving into wrestling; Soccer players moving into basketball and so on. What these players should take into consideration is the amount of stress a sports season can take on the body both mentally and physically. The emotional ups and downs of a season coupled with the stress of school and life in general can take a toll on the body. With the added stress of the physical breakdown of your body it is important to incorporate a rest period between seasons. You must allow your body and mind to recover before going into another season where you will be breaking down the same tissues.

For example: A football player goes through a physical breakdown of muscle tissue on a weekly basis. While there is some recovery that takes place during the week these athletes have been beating up their bodies for at least 12 weeks. They need some time to allow their bodies to recover thus allowing them to perform better in the following season. Another example is a soccer player (male or female). They play 2, 3 and sometimes 4 games a week. That’s a lot of stress and breakdown of your lower extremity. Then you ask them to go into a basketball season where for the first few days they are primarily just running. If the athletes do not allow time to recover they become more prone to overuse injuries (IT Band syndrome/ Patella Femoral issues/ Patellar Tendonitis/ shin splints etc).

In my experience as an Athletic Trainer at the High School level, I constantly recommended my athletes to take a week off following the season. This week allows the body to decompress and recover which allows the athlete to start the new season fresh. The 1 week time period is not a standard or set amount of time. If you had a very rough fall season then maybe 10 days to 2 weeks is appropriate. If your fall season was pretty light and easy then just a few days might be sufficient. The important part is that you let your body recover. The amount of time it takes is up to you, your coach, and your sports medicine professional.

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