There are many different recovery methods that are often discussed as recovery solutions for endurance athletes, and many companies benefit from products related to these. But which ones actually work, and are any a waste of your time, and money?
In Part 1 the more basic recovery techniques were discussed. This article, however, addresses the techniques you might associate with the ‘pro’ athletes, because of the time and equipment required – but we’ve found a way to make them available to everyday athletes!
Ice Baths/Cold water therapy
Athletes generally use ice for any injuries that occur, but ice baths or ‘cold water therapy’ have long been used as a technique to help reduce muscle soreness and therefore improve recovery. There are different ways this can be done, including the early morning walk in the ocean that many football teams do. There is some evidence that suggests cold water therapy does help recovery without any detrimental effects , so give it a go – and good luck!
How to: Cold water therapy requires temperatures of 10-15 degrees°C. In winter this is easy – head down to your local beach/lake/river and stand in the chilly water. The same can be done if you have a pool. In summer, you need a bath/clean bin/tub and a few bags of ice. Now, can you survive the recommended 15 minutes in there?!
Cold/Hot (Contrast water) Therapy
The alternative to just cold water, is rotating between both hot and cold, which is thought to increase blood flow by causing blood vessels to open and close in response to the temperature change. The evidence supporting contrast water therapy is similar to that of cold water therapy, so the choice of which one to utilise depends on personal preference.
How to: Now this one is a bit trickier, but all you really need is a cold body of water or ice, and a hot body of water. Using the same methods as listed for cold water therapy, you can interchange with jumping in a hot shower, or for maximum effect, a sauna or spa. The recommended amount of time for this technique is seven rotations of one minute in the cold and one minute in the hot water.
Many athletes swear by wearing compression leggings or socks either during training, competition or during recovery. The amount of research on the benefits of these garments is limited, however it has been shown that compression garments can assist in muscle recovery by improving blood flow and preventing swelling .
How to: There are so many different brands out there offering compression garments, with a range of differing prices. Try chatting to other athletes about which brands they use – your club might even have a sponsorship deal if you’re lucky!
Despite what many athletes think, the research does not support the view that massage improves muscle performance and recovery time , it does however have positive impacts on our psychological recovery from training. Many athletes also report feeling less muscle soreness post-massage, however this may lead to premature return to training and therefore increased risk of injury. So, make sure you maintain your normal recovery periods even if that massage makes you feel better!
How to: Unless you’re lucky enough to have a friend/housemate/partner that will give you an effective massage, you’ll need to search for a local masseuse, myotherapist or similar health professional that offers sports massage in your area.
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 Water immersion recovery for athletes: Effect on exercise performance and practical recommendations. Nathan Versey, Shona Halson, Brian Dawson.https://www.kif.unizg.hr/_download/repository/4_Oporavak_imerzijom%2C_Versey%2C_2013_SM_Water_immersion.pdf
 The effects of compression garment pressure on recovery from strenuous exercise. Jessica Hill, Glyn Howatson, Ken van Someren, David Gaze, Hayley Legg, Jack Lineham, Charles Pedlar.http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/28833/1/Hill%20et%20al.%20IJSPP_accepted%20version_different%20compression%20garments%20pressure%20on%20recovery.pdf
 Using recovery modalities between training sessions in elit athletes. Does it help? Anthony Barnett.http://dro.deakin.edu.au/eserv/DU:30058718/barnett-usingrecovery-2006.pdf