Part 2: Alternatives to Recovery
In part 1, we discussed the psychological stressors involved with hard training and how important this is alongside Physical recovery.
In order to get fitter or improve in sport, the body needs to be exposed to stresses (i.e. training or exercise), once this has happened, the body then needs time to adapt to the stresses and for this there must be a period of recovery. Rest and recovery are also important in prevention of injuries.
Simple, but often neglected!
So, we know it’s beneficial to rest, enabling us to perform well in competition and the training sessions approaching any events. Some of the keys are pretty obvious, certainly not rocket science; these are usually the ones we never commit to and we then focus on the easier solutions, often just involving ‘buying our recovery’ from a shop and utilising a gadget of some sort.
The basic recovery foundations are SLEEP, RELAX, EAT AND DRINK but what about the more intriguing techniques.
“Ice baths don’t only suppress inflammation, but help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles,” says David Terry, M.D., an ultrarunner who has finished both the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run 10 consecutive times.
Though you could use individual ice packs, cold-water immersion generally produces a greater and longer lasting change in deep tissues and is a more efficient way of cooling large groups of muscles simultaneously.
Though scientific research exists to support the use of ice baths to promote recovery, no exact protocol has been proven better than others. In general, water temperatures should be between 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and immersion time should ranges from 10 to 20 minutes
Pretty obvious really! Alternate between hot and cold water, often for practical reasons, this will be targeted to a specific limb/ area. Rather than just enduring the cold for 15 mins, you will switch between the two every few seconds for about 10 mins. I personally like the convenience of contrast showers; I shower or bath every day, however after a tough training session, a shower is usually most likely (I’d imagine this would be similar for many of us). I target the hot and cold on my traps and the top of my chest; very invigorating and seems to help with reducing soreness from intense sessions.
In recent years, compression garments have become increasingly popular amongst athletes with suggested benefits including improvements in muscular power, strength, endurance, proprioception and injury management.
Research has also shown that compression garments may promote blood lactate removal and therefore enhance recovery during periods following strenuous exercise (Berry and McMurray 1987; Chatard, Atlaoui et al. 2004) . For example, Berry and McMurray (1987) observed a significant reduction in blood lactate levels in highly fit males wearing compression stockings following a bicycle ergometer test at 110 per cent VO 2max. These results were recently confirmed by Chatard et al. (2004) who reported a significant reduction in blood lactate concentration and an increased plasma volume in 12 elderly trained cyclists wearing compression garments following five minutes of maximal cycling.
Other investigations have suggested that the use of compression garments during recovery periods may reduce the symptoms associated with delayed onset muscle soreness (Kraemer, Bush et al. 2001; Chatard, Atlaoui et al. 2004) . For example, Kraemer et al. (2001) reported that subjects wearing compression garments for three days following severe eccentric exercise showed a decrease in perception of soreness, reduction in swelling and an improved recovery of force production.
When trying to recover from an excessive work out, make sure you remember the important factors like nutrition, sleep and relaxing however, why not try out some of the more adventurous techniques, be brave and try an ice bath…let us know how it goes!