With pre-season for Winter sports well underway, many athletes all over Australia will be dreading the body soreness and tightness from all that hard training. For some of you, the off-season may have been total relaxation.
So what sport recovery techniques are worth trying?
Getting back into pre-season will be a big jump for you! The first few weeks (and even months) can leave your body sore, tight and tired.
Recovering effectively after each session will ensure that you can get the most out of your body, every single session.
Alternatively, you may already be in the middle of your season and looking for ways to increase your performance and maximise your body’s output.
You may find yourself trying to make sense of conflicting information regarding the best practices that provide maximum recovery from training. New research is constantly being conducted in this area to give athletes any advantage possible. We can therefore learn from the latest research, and what is considered best practice by elite sports teams, for the most effective recovery protocol.
The following will give you the best results and, more importantly, have evidence supporting their use:
- Sleep – 7-9 hours is recommended for healthy adults; athletes need 9-10 hours’ total sleep to be performing at their best (Bonnar et al. 2018)
- Good nutrition, both pre and post-exercise
- Rehydration – water is the best option, but sports drinks can also be useful to help replace carbohydrates.
There are some recovery techniques that are used in elite sport that have evidence both for and against them.
This doesn’t mean they are not valuable, but it does mean that you should only use these in conjunction with the list above, as a part of your recovery regime.
Examples of such recovery methods are:
- Ice baths (cold water immersion): Ice baths have traditionally been used to help with muscle soreness, post-exercise. This is recommended after weights sessions to help with the soreness experienced (known as delayed onset muscle soreness). New studies show that the use of ice baths may also promote better-quality sleep.
- Massage and foam rolling
- Compression garments and machines
Time is precious; make sure that yours is spent on techniques that actually work. Recover well and play hard!
Bleakley, C., McDonough, S., Gardner, E., Baxter, G. D., Hopkins, J. T., & Davison, G. W. (2012). Cold-water immersion (cryotherapy) for preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2012(2), CD008262. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD008262.pub2
Bonnar, D., Bartel, K., Kakoschke, N., & Lang, C. (2018). Sleep Interventions Designed to Improve Athletic Performance and Recovery: A Systematic Review of Current Approaches. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 48(3), 683–703. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0832-x
Davis, H. L., Alabed, S., & Chico, T. J. A. (2020). Effect of sports massage on performance and recovery: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ open sport & exercise medicine, 6(1), e000614. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000614