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    Tuesday, September 15, 2015

    How to Kick Fatigue? Try Science’s New “3-Day” Rule


      Wouldn’t it be nice if our bodies recovered immediately after a workout? No sore legs. No achy knees. No tight back. Just instant, spontaneous recovery.

    Alas, the cure for post-workout fatigue eludes even the best medical minds.

    However, scientists have made strides figuring out exactly how long it takes the human body to recover from exercise—and how that number has shifted over time.

    A new paper in the Journal of Sports Economics, by University of Calabria Professor Vincenzo Scoppa, examined the impact of rest on team performance in professional soccer. Scoppa tested a widely-held belief: that teams would be more likely to beat their opponents if they had more rest time before a match.

    What he found is fascinating (and useful for athletes of all ability levels). Analyzing professional soccer match outcomes from 1930-2012, he showed that:

        Teams that rested for less than three days before a match were at a significant disadvantage when playing against a well-rested opponent.
        However, beyond three days of rest, there was no additional benefit of more rest.

    In other words, three days of rest is all a soccer team needed to return to top form. Interesting results, but how broadly do they apply?

    Evidence from professional basketball hints at a similar conclusion. For example, Union Graduate College Professor Alan Bowman and his collaborators found that NBA teams fare far worse when playing consecutive games.

    Furthermore, research has found the “home court advantage” in the NBA to be at least partly due to the road team’s lack of rest.

    “The NBA schedules things so that road teams tend to have reduced rest (for example, teams almost never play home games on consecutive days but do sometimes play road games on consecutive days),” said Dylan Small, professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “We found that about 10% of the home court advantage (in terms of points) could be attributed to the reduced amount of rest for road teams.”

    There is another finding worthy of attention in Scoppa’s analysis. It appears that, over time, the impact of short rest on soccer team performance has gotten smaller. In other words, a rest period of only one or two days was more detrimental to team performance in the 1950’s than it was, say, in the 1990’s.

    This, Scoppa suggests, is likely due to superior fitness and training in modern day soccer.

    “Athletic preparation is much more intense in recent times. Medicine is applied more to soccer,” says Scoppa.

    Nevertheless, the “three-day rule” might be, at present, the best rule of thumb science can offer athletes when developing their training and competition schedule.

    Scoppa writes, “It seems that there is a threshold of about three days under which rest time is important, whereas beyond this threshold additional rest is no more useful.”

    Granted, this conclusion is based on data from professional athletes. Scoppa warns that what applies to the professional athlete may not translate to the casual sportsman.

    “My intuition – supported by my findings on heterogeneous effects of rest over time – is that for amateur and hobbyist athletes the time to recover from fatigue is much longer than for professionals,” says Scoppa. “Well-prepared professionals recover earlier.”

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     This topic brought to you from psychologytoday.com
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